Old Media vs. New Media

The battle rages on, and our poor books are caught in the crossfire! Today new media dealt a swift and painful blow to old media. David Nudo, the former publisher of Publishers Weekly who was laid off because of restructuring (a.k.a. PW is broke), announced today that he is the new director of sales and marketing for Shelfari, a book-specific social networking site. The limping print media loses another exec to the Internet.

British people take a look at the Kindle. They think that even though publishers and authors are afraid of losing money on pirated ebooks, the Kindle and technology are good things for the book publishing industry. The article refers to one of my favorite points in this old vs. new debate, namely that ebooks and the Kindle are not here to replace paper books. In fact, the article suggests that the possibilities of linking an ebook to online forums, annotations, and other books has the potential to create “a whole new art form.” All this interactive annotating and linking does not particularly appeal to me, probably because my taste in literary theory tends toward New Criticism and Reader Reponse. However, we as book people should not denounce the new media visions of others. It makes us look ignorant and backward. I picture some guy back in 1900 looking at a telephone and saying, “What the hell do we need this thing for?”

And finally, owning a Kindle apparently all boils down to whether or not you are willing to give up your bookshelves that display your reading habits. Conversational Reading blogger Scott Esposito points to an interesting exchange between Times blogger Matt Selman, The American Prospect writer Ezra Klein, and Scott McLemee’s article from Inside Higher Ed. Selman posted rules about displaying books, specifically that one cannot display a book that one has not read. Klein responded with a pleasing amount of cynicism that bookshelves are specifically for displaying books you have not read. McLemee wrote an article that takes the middle road, saying put whatever you want on your bookshelf.


Author: Hannah Johnson

When I first came to New York City, I almost ran over Liza Minelli with my suitcase. Then I got a job in book publishing.

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