Thursday, June 26, 2008

Print and Story

"Bookshops are fine if you already love books, but how do you fall in love with books? Where does it start? There have to be books everywhere, in places where you go before you know you're a reader."(pg. 118 The Story so Far Corey Doctorow, available here
) I'm not a huge Doctorow fan simply because I think he skimps on quality in place of attempting to make a point and skates remarkably close to awkward allegory. I do like this story even for its remarkable transparency. I would take some umbrage with the quote above, however. It's the rosetta stone of this short story as it appears highlighted and bold in the margins on page 118. Neil Postman in his work Building a Bride to the 18th Century makes the point that people reach for their televisions like they used to reach for magazines. Channel surfing is equivalent to page flipping only stopping to read an article/editorial/comic or short story is remarkably and essentially different than landing on a particular program and sinking into it. Books have been everywhere and that has not helped or changed a public's view of them. It is not presence but perspective that is required. It is arguable that in the case of crime a police presence is helpful to deter it but I'm not convinced that the mere presence of books is intimidating enough to encourage people to read. I.E. Douglas Coupland's book Elanor Rigby was selling for a dollar today in B&N. I had already bought a copy of this work when it hit $5 otherwise I would picked up the cheaper copy. Books are continually around us but I would echo the sentiments of bookshop owner of Doctorow's story on the first page. "Honestly, practically no one read books anymore and what they did read was mostly rubbish."(pg. 116) As a future/budding librarian it is my job to encourage the perspective of books on others. This is not simply the art and practice of reading but a thought process and interaction that reflects the logical order of a printed work. I wish this was my idea but credit goes once again to Postman and his Bride to the 18th Century. Postman suggest, and rightly so I think, that "In a culture dominated by print, pbulic discourse tends to be characterized by a coherent, orderly arrangement of facts and ideas. The public for whom it is intnded is generally competent to manage such discource. In a print culture, writers make mistakes when they lie, contradict themselves, fail to suppor thtei generalizations, try to force illogical connections. In a print culture, readers make mistakes when they don't notice, or even worse, don't care." (Pgs. 149-150 Building a Bridge to the 18th Century)

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