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Posts Tagged ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’

Today in the Holocene: Apple’s Tablet and the Future of Literature

Sunday, January 31, 2010 @ 06:01 PM  posted by Mark

By Daniel Akst, Los Angeles Times

Literature has always relied on technology. We wouldn’t have the Dead Sea Scrolls had the ancients failed to invent papyrus, just as we wouldn’t have “The Da Vinci Code” if Gutenberg hadn’t come out with movable type.

It is important to bear in mind that technology is not the sworn enemy of literature as Apple prepares to unveil its much-anticipated new tablet computer. Still, the collision of technology and literature in this case may well prove explosive.

A well-designed Apple tablet, embedded in the right business model, has the potential to blow up the book business as we know it, ultimately upending the whole rickety edifice of publishers, booksellers and agents, much as the digital revolution (and Apple) have done to the music business. These new tablets will give ink on paper a powerful nudge into history’s wastebasket, helping to remake not just books but newspapers, magazines and other material we’ve traditionally consumed in print.

The result will be a seismic change in the literary culture. Ubiquitous tablets will make books cheaper and more readily available, even as physical bookstores follow Tower Records into oblivion. The time is not far off when the typical 10-year-old will have the equivalent of the Library of Alexandria in her backpack.

It’s not clear how anyone will get paid for writing, or what will take the place of the existing commercial system. It may get our egalitarian juices flowing to think that the digital revolution will open up this world, but a literary culture in which everyone is a writer and no one is an editor is likely to leave all of us poorer.

Sparks always fly when technology and literature get together. We can expect that this time, as usual, they will burn down the old and light up the new.

Read the full article here.

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