Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jim McCarthy says, “Shut up, Philip Roth”

Philip Roth, ever the optimist, thinks that the novel is going to become a cultish object in the near future. JK Evanczuk has some good arguments that the novel is quite a bit healthier than Roth expects.

I think we can all agree that while the future of the printed book may be in question (are hard copy books going to become the albums?), the actual art of writing continues (and will continue) to hold appeal.

The question is, why is it so hard for people to acknowledge that there is room in our lives for more than one medium to entertain and inform us?

I love you Philip Roth, but you sound a little crotchety and out of touch here.

Or am I just hopelessly optimistic?


  1. A private school recently did away with books and their library now consists of e-readers and computers.

    Wonder if they can make a scratch and sniff e-reader that smells like a new book while emulating the sound of a book binding cracking open for the first time?

  2. I was just saying the exact same thing when this post popped up on my reader!

    The type of book might change and the medium might change, but I don't believe that the novel is going away either. And isn't our cultural ADD an argument for there being more room for diversity in entertainment (including books).

  3. I'm not sure if I buy into the E-reader fad either. Unlike other trends that end up taking over an entire industry, I don't see many readers around...

    Unlike a printed newspaper, a Walkman (yes, I just went there), or VHS movies...the biggest reason to switch (making something better, easier, or FREE) doesn't pop out at me. I personally hate reading things on my computer. But I love going to a bookstore and browsing.

    So, maybe this is just me!

  4. He sounds crotchety indeed, but I can forgive him anything since he gave me Operation Shylock. That book is even better than the Dancing Descent Crawler video:

    I think Stephanie makes a great point regarding Roth's comment on our cultural ADD, and while I agree that the medium may change from print to ebooks, I don't think the novel is in any danger. But if Roth's anxiety about it propels him to keep on producing, I'm cool with it.

  5. I think the time has probably come that authors, agents and publishing houses need to embrace the slow shift to e-readers. I think the shift will be slower that it was in the music industry, because there are a lot of people who will NEVER give up their print books. But the thought that the novel is on death’s door is ridiculous.

    My hope is that publishing houses are fair and reasonable with author contracts, and with MacMillan’s upcoming shift in e-royalties to a “single royalty rate” set at 20% (including license sales) I’m concerned that won’t be the case.

  6. I think that we have room for both, but I will always love the printed word. By the way, I still have my tapes and VHS's. ;-)