Virginia Woolf on the Demise of Books

Via The New Yorker

This is hardly the first time that the literati have worried about the demise of book publishing. A July 1927 BBC radio debate, “Are Too Many Books Written and Published?” pitted Virginia Woolf against her publisher husband, Leonard.

Virgina answers:

Books ought to be so cheap that we can throw them away if we do not like them, or give them away if we do. Moreover, it is absurd to print every book as if it were fated to last a hundred years. The life of the average book is perhaps three months. Why not face this fact? Why not print the first edition on some perishable material which would crumble to a little heap of perfectly clean dust in about six months time? If a second edition were needed, this could be printed on good paper and well bound. Thus by far the greater number of books would die a natural death in three months or so. No space would be wasted and no dirt would be collected.

But, if the future of publishing really is the e-book, what would Woolf have thought about a world entirely without paper-and-cloth books?

Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Koen Vereeken


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