Friday, April 30, 2010

books are dead

Talking yesterday to a literary agent about the direction of one of my mother's books, I asked her casually about her take on electronic books. Claudia admitted she didn't know a lot about them and was a bit grumpy about their incursion into the actual-factual-touch-'em-and-smell-'em book markets, but then she said, based on a lot of years in the industry, "Books are dead. It's inevitable."

Since both of us are of an age that grew up with books that became like friends along our book shelves, welcoming us into one room or another, we whined a little about the inevitability of the demise of books and whether it implied an increase in the lack of knowledge that seems to beset a lot of young people. We were just two old farts, whining.

When something is inevitable, can it be sad or happy?

Not that I plan to stop whining about the fate of books. But I also mourn the reduced availability of the potato ricer -- a tool that used to sell for a couple of bucks but now sells for $20-$40 and seems to be offered primarily in stores that specialize in things like monogrammed toilet plungers.

Sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory of this world) has a dirge-like solemnity to it. But doesn't it really mean, as it has always meant, "thus passes the glory of me?"

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