Tuesday, May 26, 2009
A Kind of Spooky Power
In the June issue of the Nation, Kate Sifton, senior vice president of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, writes about the history of the publishing industry and questions what the future holds. Sifton dubs books "instruments of enlightenment" that have "a kind of spooky power" as cultural objects. Nevertheless, Sifton believes the industry has been brought low by "opportunistic books by or about politicians and celebrities." Sifton worries that the current "stifling excess of lucrative junk" will "dominate shelf space, ad budgets and public attention," leaving "nowhere near enough air, space or money for true literature." Her conclusion: "It is a confused, confusing and very fluid situation, and no one can predict how books and readers will survive." A somewhat disappointing conclusion after so many words, but the article is still worth reading.