Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Sad Loss

This morning's Washington Post includes an article about how the Book World as a stand alone Sunday section will soon be no more (as of February 22). As a cost-cutting measure, the Post will now incorporate book reviews in the Style section and in the newly revamped Outlook section. I suppose we will all adjust, just like we did when the powers that be at the Post moved the Style Invitational to Saturday instead of Sunday (heretics). Selfishly, I will miss my Sunday afternoon/evening post-church relaxation ritual of curling up with the Book World, reading all the reviews and wondering which of these books must be added to my personal "must read" list. It's also fun to read what events Politics and Prose is hosting and pretend that I can go to them.

They say that the Book World as we know it will still be available online, at least for a time, but IT'S JUST NOT THE SAME!! You can't curl up on the couch with an afghan, a mug of tea, and your computer. I guess some people do (if they have laptops), but it just does not feel natural to me.

While I mourn the demise of the Book World, my greater concern is for the future of newspapers and books. I realize that the Post, like all newspapers, is fighting for its life and that this is a cost-cutting measure. Are we headed in a direction of all reading being done on computers and newspapers and books being quaint relics of the past? I would miss books even more than newspapers. While I have a sneaking interest in the Amazon Kindle, and it would solve a lot of problems that we have in our household with book storage, I am not ready to let go of books. I LOVE BOOKS. I love the way they feel in my hands, the way they smell, they way we can scrawl thoughts in their margins and return to our favorites again and again like old friends. Don't see that happening with a Kindle - can't imagine scrolling through a jillion pages trying to find the favorite quote that will fit perfectly into Sunday's sermon.

In the long run, I suppose computerized reading will save a lot of trees - but also generate a lot of e-waste. Discarded computers leach a lot of toxic chemicals back into the earth, so environmentally the book/computer dilemma is probably a wash. Anyway, have had a vague sense of depression all day ever since I found out about the Book World. Is the downfall of the Book World one more step toward a world without books? Let's hope not.

Reverent Reader


At 1/29/09, 2:00 PM , Blogger Roy said...


I share your grief. I do not read books on computers and don't want to for most of the same reasons you mention. In addition, I enjoy the art of books; I like looking at them in my home or office. Occasionally I have a sense of being surrounded by a cloud of witnesses and joined in a community of the living and the dead. When I read a book I have a relationship with the author that I have not found (yet?) with a computer.

At 1/29/09, 4:39 PM , Blogger Reverent Reader said...

Roy - I agree, the primary mode of interior decoration in our home is books, same goes for my office. Can't imagine what computers will do to the fascinating art of cover design. Sad.

At 1/29/09, 9:51 PM , Blogger Ruth said...

I subscribe to a blog by an agent named Nathan Bransford, I'll try to link it here:

He blogged today about the Kindle, etc. and it's interesting to see the evolution in his thinking. What I'm starting to think: we can't deny this. This is happening. So now I'm becoming very curious about reading devices. And imagine how much weight we won't have to lug about!

At 2/1/09, 11:57 PM , Blogger Deb said...

I was bummed as well... I liked to browse Book World, and dream of books that are not textbooks...ah....


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