Margaret Atwood on the future of books

Margaret Atwood on the future of books

(Image: Q TV)

Margaret Atwood has spoken on the future of books, and her predictions aren’t as grim as you might think. She is the creator of the LongPen, after all. Far from bemoaning the slow death of paper, Peggy lays out the benefits of e-literacy in a recent post on her blog:

Reading is not decreasing, as feared—in fact it’s increasing, as one must be able to read in order to use the Internet—but it’s being done in different ways… I speculate that the availability of e-books is actually increasing reading, as e-books are cheap, portable en mass, and instantly available. I also speculate—based on the two previous blogposts I did on this subject, and the wide range of comments received—that readers, given the choice, would like to have both formats—the e-book to take on travels long or short, and to read to see if the book is one you might want to keep; and the paper book for favourites, gifts, cozy reading at home (in bed and bath, for instance).

Ever the pragmatic eco-warrior, Atwood has a few concerns with going totally electronic: it’s unreliable (“Would you keep your will in e-form only?”), not totally private (paper books “make it much harder for anyone else to track what you’ve been reading”) and not sustainable (“The Internet is dependent on energy, and energy is still dependent on oil”). But she’s not worried.

[A]t my age I’m not looking at an infinite vista down which there lurks some sort of e-troll that might leap out of an e-shrub and tear apart my paper life, and utterly destroy my prospects in twenty-five years’ time.

We’re not sure what an e-troll might look like, but we’re picturing something like this.

• Reading: Literacy and the Economy, Brain and Educational Benefits, E-books and Paper Books [Year of the Flood blog]