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The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books

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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  80 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
The way we absorb information has changed dramatically. Edison’s phonograph has been reincarnated as the iPod. Celluloid went digital. But books, for the most part, have remained the same—until now. And while music and movies have undergone an almost Darwinian evolution, the literary world now faces a revolution, a sudden change in the way we buy, produce, and read books.

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Paperback, 165 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Soft Skull Press
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karen
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfictions
to know me at all is to know my opinion about e-readers. i'm an old sentimental fool when it comes to books. i like to see them stacked all over my apartment, like friends. or more specifically like my goodreads.com "friends" - many of these books are here and i know nothing about them except i brought them into my space because at one time i thought they would be interesting or useful, and then a lotta them just stood around silently.

but i like having them here
i like their potential.

sure, i co
...more
Lisa Brown
May 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was an impulse buy off the "employee recommendations" display at my local Barnes & Noble while killing time before seeing "Thor" in 3D. One look at the cover art, and I couldn't very well not buy it. Throw in the fact that I've been kicking around the idea of entitling my thesis "This Is Not a Book: Reading as Tactile Experience and the Fetishization of Print," and it's fairly obvious that this particular book was tailor-made for me.

Happily, it did not disappoint.

The common consensus ap
...more
Mark
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Booklovers are a bit disoriented these days, between the rise of the e-book and the collapse of the physical bookseller Borders. Are these trends truly related? And what does that mean for the future of books? The independent publisher Soft Skull Press wins the award for breathtaking timeliness. They have just published a collection of essays, "The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books". Twenty-five authors consider not just the future of the novel and imaginative writing, but also ...more
Sara Q
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Saw this mentioned by the editor here: http://www.themillions.com/2011/01/la...

Loved this book. A collection of essays from various writers about the future of writing, reading, and the hallowed book itself. Some were funny, some were moody, some were fantasy and nostalgia combined. I enjoyed something from each of them, and found a lot to think about, as well as breadcrumb trails into other books that are now added to my "to read" list. I also enjoyed the irony of reading this book (that compar
...more
Pete Meyers
Mar 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Meh. I was really psyched when I heard about this book: most "future of the book" conversations leave out the perspective of actual writers. But the dozen or so essays in this collection are mainly paeans to the physical book: its smell, the way it lets us take notes in the margin, its heft, etc. I wanted to hear more about, well, the future of books and instead mainly heard about why print books are great. A few essays worth reading do stand out: Kyle Beachy "The Extent of Our Decline" (on the ...more
Shelf Magazine
The written word’s last big format change turned out to be a pretty big
deal, fomenting revolutions and laying the groundwork for modern civil society, the scientific revolution, and modernity itself. Gutenberg’s big coup sent shock waves through palace halls across Europe(though, it should be noted, movable type printing had been invented earlier in Asia)
and soon reverberated around the globe. With the advent of e-readers, near infinite data storage capability, and a shift to a more sustainabl
...more
Elizabeth
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
This was a fun anthology that wasn't at all heavy handed but had some creative pieces and expressed some familiar ideas in novel ways that made them resonate for me. I feel that many of its pieces might be easily understood by someone who wasn't necessarily inclined to think about these things on a theoretical level (e.g., disentangling book objects from their content). For me, who thinks about these things all of the time, it was refreshing to read a collection that took such ideas seriously, b ...more
Sara Cutaia
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Book-lovers and writers alike need to read these essays! They're funny and thought-provoking, timely and timeless. Before I even finished this, I was flipping to certain essays to quote a line or to reference a point an author made. These are smart and fun and important essays written by smart and fun and important authors. I love books, and I don't hate e-readers. And I'll read essays debating the future of both as long as people are willing to write them.
Oliver
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
There are more hits than misses in this little collection of essays on the future of books/literature/writing/humanity. The majority are guilty of preaching to the choir, and some say as much -- I mean, who except a hopeful and slightly frightened book lover is going to read something like this? Bonus feature: It's peppered with good reading recommendations.
Amber Perry
Eh. There was a lot hype surrounding this book. They have a stable of solid writers, but the book just didn't do it for me. Most of them were...meaningless and rambles. I wish The Millions wouldn't published a book of its essays instead this weak mediation on the future of books
Krista Buccellato
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Loved it. So incredibly interesting. As with any collection some pieces appealed to me more than others. But I very much enjoyed reading the insight of these authors into the fate of their long standing (and quickly evolving) medium.
Rebecca Schwarz
Jan 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this collection of essays. Most were quite short and not all were fawning over physical book-as-object (though some were). A nice range of opinions about the state of novels in this time of changing formats.
Mark
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a good book. I don't have much else to say on it; it didn't inspire me, it didn't show me some element in the realm of reading and/or novels. It was a fun read, and it reaffirmed to me that novels will always be around in some form or another.
Maryanne
Jul 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The essays I read were interesting, but I've already forgotten most and didn't read them all. Important topic, though. Gave my copy to a writing professor.
Hector Ibarraran
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
A couple of good essays, but mostly people who are afraid of change or just plain don't get it. The final essay was almost great, but it was merely good. I read this book on my phone. Ha!
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Jeff Martin is an author and editor. His book, The Customer is Always Wrong: The Retail Chronicles was a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee, a book club selection for Foreword Magazine and a Shelf Awareness Book of the Year. His second book, My Dog Ate My Nobel Prize: The Fabricated Memoirs of Jeff Martin, was released in 2009. He is a frequent contributor to Publishers Weekly, National Pu ...more