Dog-Eared and Dispatched: January 18, 2015
How important are physical monuments? That’s the theme for this week’s rundown of book culture, as we look at the fate of author’s houses, the rising desire for print books, and how ebook retailers are trying to keep up. Are you ready for some answers? Read on.
So the architect Thom Mayne bought Ray Bradbury’s house in June 2014, and in December filed for a permit to demolish it. This week the house was torn down and fans got a bit miffed about it. This is of course the march of time, there’s nothing new about tearing down houses where famous people once lived. In an interview with Melville House’s Alex Shephard, Mayne expressed surprise at the outcry, and shared some of his plans for the future of the property, plans which draw more attention to Bradbury’s association with the property than the yellow house did. Is it more important to have the relic or to have the memory? As the man says, “Even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them…” (MobyLives!, LA Times)
The British Library recently released a report crediting smart phones and social media with a 10% increase in library use in 2014. The report is quite eloquent on the desire for “real” experiences: “at a time when the provision of knowledge and culture is increasingly digital and screen-based, the value and importance of high-quality physical spaces and experiences is growing, not diminishing […] The more screen-based our lives, it seems, the greater the perceived value of real human encounters and physical artefacts: activity in each realm feeds interest in the other.” Their findings are supported by sales numbers: sales of print books were up 2.4% in 2014 compared to 2013, with young adult and children’s print books showing the biggest increases. (MobyLives!, British Library, Publishers Weekly)
Kicking of the Digital Book World conference and expo on Tuesday, the two major subscription ebook services both announced that they had a new partner: Macmillan books (including the Tor imprint) are now available on Scribd and Oyster. Ebook subscription services were a major topic of interest at the conference, and “Nielsen BookScan’s Jonathan Stolper told attendees that e-book subscriptions represent about 5% of the book business—but that number jumps to 10% if Amazon Prime is included, which, though not truly an e-book subscription plan, does offer free e-books to customers.” (Scribd, Oyster, Publishers Weekly)
- The difficulty of earning a living through art.
- Where you don’t memorize the poem, the poem memorizes you.
- Following the memes, a look at the Hermione Granger series.
- Oscar related: resurrecting Stefan Zweig.
- The uses of art (and books).