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First Blog of Fall Semester

Posted on September 14, 2011 by guest-nb There have been 0 comments

Hello. We have three new interns (plus one old one) to introduce to everyone this week. But to kick things off, I am going to post something that has been weighing on my mind a lot this past summer--the future of the publishing industry.

My name is Kelly, and I am a second-year Publishing graduate student at Emerson College, so the future of the industry is very important to me. Look for introductions for the whole crew on Friday....

“It’s a book.”

This simple statement is repeated in a children’s book called It’s a Book by Lane Smith when a donkey cannot understand the concept of a bound stack of papers. It is the monkey in the story—an avid reader and library member—who explains to the donkey that a reader does not use codes or passwords to unlock a book and a book does not need a mouse to be navigated.

“It’s a book,” the monkey constantly reiterates to set the donkey straight.

Although I am in graduate school, I actually received a copy of this children’s book this summer as a gift from my parents. Just like many discussions in my publishing classes, this book made me think about the future of the publishing industry. Will future students use only computers or tablets to uncover the classics, to study for tests, and to download new releases? Will libraries simply be buildings with tables and computers? Will books become obsolete?

Borders and many independent bookstores closed their doors this spring and summer around the Boston area, and many have closed around the country. Yet, even though technology is forcing people to use only one device to do everything, it was refreshing to find a conversation on my Facebook the other night that proves members of my generation are still fighting to keep books around. One friend’s argument led to the example that even though electricity has been around for ages, people still buy and use candles. Antiques and old cars are refurbished and brought to a second life.

Books may become a hobby—something the eventual “hipster” will cling to and prove he or she has not given up on old ways. And, books may have to change to have things like a video message from the author. (I would buy a new edition of each Harry Potter book if J.K. Rowling left special messages throughout their pages.) Still, I am hopeful and believe books will stay forever in our culture-- even if I have to make it my life's purpose to keep print alive.

At the end of It’s a Book, the donkey tells the monkey that he will recharge the book he borrowed before giving it back.

Monkey replies, “You don’t have to…it’s a book, jackass.”

Enough said.

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