Mar 28, 2014

Not dead yet

Is this a book?

London, British Library MS 89074. Image: British Library.

I’d say yes; it’s a fifteenth-century English-Latin glossary, the Catholicon Anglicum, in its original binding. It's handwritten rather than printed, but I think most people would call this a book.

On New Year’s Day, 2014, Robert Bolick reflected intelligently and thoughtfully on the recurring meme of ‘the death of the book’ in this blog post. Since the early 1990s, various people, mostly journalists, have been loudly proclaiming ‘the death of reading’, ‘the death of the book’, ‘the end of books’. In 1991, the murderer was television. More recently, it’s the e-reader. Cautionary voices have responded by noting that it is too early to pronounce the epitaph for books, that new media have not killed reading, and that something that continually needs to be thumped on the head and declared dead is, on the contrary, probably not dead yet.