*Ebooks and More

I was contacted by Finn Harvor, a Canadian writer and artist teaching in South Korea, to talk about the state of publishing, ebooks and the future of literature.

FH: What is your take on the current depressed state of literary publishing? Is it a passing phase? Or is it an intractable problem — in other words, it is the new normal? And if the latter, what can be down to counteract it?

LN: In Canada, despite the recession, book sales are up, so I’m not sure that literature is in a terrible state. The demise of the novel, for example, was mourned in magazines like Atlantic a hundred years ago, and it’s still going strong. The fact is that popular entertainment has always been, well, more popular then literature. That goes back to the days of bread and circuses. But that doesn’t mean that art and literature aren’t important or don’t have an impact beyond their sales. The impact can be felt in many ways, language, social impact, ideas, beauty, and because of that human impulse and need that goes beyond particular distribution methods or profit demands, literature will continue to be made and read.

(Full interview here.)

13 thoughts on “*Ebooks and More

  1. I enjoyed this very much, Lilian. I think the future of literature is definitely changing, and electronic media in the form of e-books and readers, as well as blogs, has generated new interest in reading, especially among younger people.

    I especially love the way the internet has sparked so much discussion about books and reading, and opened up new avenues for writers that might never had the opportunity to be read before.

    However, as much as I enjoy many aspects of electronic media, my first choice will always be to read a “real” book – if for no other reason than I’m a huge fan of reading in the tub, a place no e-reader dares to go!

    1. Becca, I’m with you–I am definitely a tub reader. Especially at those times when the kids are at home and full of high jinks. Nothing like a half hour with a book and ultra hot water.

  2. Lovely interview. I liked the part about posting extra scenes (that didn’t make the cut) onto your blog. And all the other stuff about writing and publishing. I see e-readers as adding to the picture rather than taking away.

  3. I do love the interview. I’m a consistent ebook user myself– I got myself a Kindle when it first came out, and use a Kindle app on my Mac. Peter– I’m in agreement with you on that; ereaders do add to the picture. I don’t see the hype about the ‘feel’ of holding a physical book… to me, it’s the words that matter.

  4. Interesting reading. I would like to get an e-reader, but probably not a Kindle, for the reasons you mention. I’d rather have something that’s service-independent, onto which I can put whatever books I choose (there are plenty of out-of-copyright classics which I’ve yet to read!)

  5. Great response! It’s hard to sort out whether threats are new or are just more of the same kind of threat we have always had (the novel has always been dying!), but you are so right that we will always need stories and literature.

  6. I loved the interview because you kept trying to steer the conversation away from the dull questions about what format and what price and what market to the genuine sweetness and beauty of literature itself. Good on you!

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