I guess the big thing at this weekend's Book Expo in Washington, D.C. was the controversy of what technology means for the publishing world. The catalyst of all of this was an article that appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine entitled Scan This Book, which discussed the developments in technology in regards to publishing. Some see it as a great boost to the publishing business (the technorati), while others see it as a decline (the literati). The most prominent critic of the looming technological revolution was John Updike who warned against embracing these changes because they threatened the pure definition and integrity of the industry. Ironically, Updike's speech on the ills of technology will be available as a podcast from the Book Expo website.
Updike stated that "books are intrinsic to our human identity." True, but is it the corporeal existence of that book that is intrinsic or the content?
I have to say that my opinion is somewhere between the technorati and the literati. I can understand and embrace the advantages of technological changes, but at the same time I just enjoy having a book. Sure, I spend enough time on the internet reading, but I prefer hold a book; reading print on paper. (Plus, just about my entire family is in the paper industry.) I read the NYTimes on-line, but I much prefer getting ink on my fingers. I think my personal preference is for the printed page, but the advantages of reaching more people and stop the hemorrhaging of losing readers are too great to ignore. Besides, books will always be around, no matter the future developments of electronic paper and reading devices.
Human identity is not threatened here. If anything, the continuing development of new media only broadens our identity.
Overall, I think the technorati are onto something, but my heart remains with the literati.