Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Worries about reading books

There is no surer sign of the iconic status of books in our culture than the continuous complaints about the decline in the number of people reading literature. The endless anecdotal evidence for poor cultural literacy is increasingly buttressed by polling data, though the latter does not instill much confidence. So in the same week that a colleague pointed out to me FirstThings's approving review of Mark Bauerlein’s jeremiad, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a new NEA survey that showed a sharp up-tick in literary reading, especially among young adults.

Maybe it's just because I deal with ancient history, but I think these discussions, and especially the statistics they depend on, treat far too short a time-span (usually less than fifty years) to draw meaningful conclusions about the effect of reading rates on society in general ...

Bookstore pictures

Nigel Beale has put a large set of pictures of independent and college bookstores on Flikr, like this one of Micawber's Books in Minneapolis, MN. Is this an homage to an endangered species?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How Books (should be) Produced

The digital marketing team at Macmillan has produced a tongue-in-cheek (and self-promoting) account of book production on UTube:

I wonder how many people will take it at face value ...

(h/t to Michael Lieberman on Book Patrol).