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The future of books

The future of... Question, when in literary contexts, usually relates to the novel. Will the novel be around in ten, twenty years time? The novel is quite frequently doomed by those whom the medium has served quite well but are coming to the winter of their writing careers/lives, like the recently prophesying Phillip Roth. Yet it goes on. Every few years it becomes reinvigorated and new attention is shone on it. Mass market fiction is, at the moment in quite a healthy state of affairs. It seems. Hasn't it now got the Richard and Judy show behind it - the equivalent of the Oprah Book Club? Or is this just high capitalism 'infecting' the noble art of story-telling and the state of the novel is really in quite a dire state?
However it is viewed, a recent article, penned from the Frankfurt Book Fair, asked what those attendees, book industry professionals all, thought of the future of the book. Most said it would, indeed, still be with us in fifty years time. The bookseller on the High Street, however, may not.
I was on Oxford Street the other day and noticed that the most recently opened Waterstones there had closed and was boarded up. I am on Oxford St on a fairly regular basis, for one reason and another, and what surprised me most of all was that I hadn't even noticed it was closing. Maybe it was a moonlight flit! I have been in there, browsing usually, loads of times. Then I realised that the last book I bought was Jack London's The Star Rover from... Amazon!
And then there was the recent launch of the Sony Reader. I saw a picture of it online and, I have to say, it looks quite impressive. Text size can be reduced, increased, probably even made to sing and dance too. But would it FEEL the same as holding a book? Only time will tell. Although, ten years ago I never thought I would be typing away on a blackberry to a blog!!

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