Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Re Re: The End of Books

I know you own a great many books, David, but the truth is the book business as a business does not rely upon collectors; if it did it would have folded up shop long ago. It depends on people who buy books casually, a few times a year, and on wildly successful long-published books from the “backlist.” I think it’s beyond argument that the “backlist” is going to go entirely digital, because reading devices are almost certain to become standard in schools and colleges a few years hence. That leaves nothing but the bestseller business to prop up the printing press, and it’s in bestsellers that the Kindle is scoring its greatest successes. Don’t worry; the fact that new books will no longer be printed except in the way that, say, new vinyl records are still released for high-end stereo fans will make your own collection far more valuable over time. And you can still read to your son from the Kindle. I read one of the Beverly Cleary books to my daughter on mine when she forgot it on a plane ride and I grabbed it on the runway in ten seconds.