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A Swiftian proposal for publishers and more book news

August 24, 2010 |  9:29 am


Are some publishers nearing the end of their life cycles? Will the print-electronic revolution spell death for some? Instead of dragging their businesses slowly to the graveyard, should those facing certain doom meet their ends with dignity? At the Institute for the Future of the Book, Bob Stein makes a Swiftian suggestion: hospice for publishers.

"It would be a matter of selling the assets that can be sold, providing staff with generous severance and really helping them to find new jobs, and then at the very end giving some wonderful parties, celebrating the end of an era."

He's kidding, at least a little, right?

As we move into a future where e-books and e-readers compete side-by-side with old-style paper books, one question to ask is which is better for the environment? The Washington Post says the e-book is the green book.

"As long as you consume a healthy number of titles, you read at a normal pace and you don't trade in your gadget every year, perusing electronically will lighten your environmental impact." Which is hard to reconcile with Pieter Hugo's stunning photos of a graveyard for computers in Ghana; paper pulp facilities aren't quite so grim.

Seattle's public libraries will close for a week, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6 because of the city's $67-million budget shortfall. Decision makers selected a week of low usage, when students would not yet be in school, and will save around $650,000. Surprisingly, there's a piece of good news in this story: borrowers will be able to download e-books from the library's website during the closure (via Booksquare).

For all its popularity, the Kindle e-reader still is a little lacking in the book jacket department -- while it can render images, it's not yet in color. The annual Orbit Books survey of the art of fantasy book covers is a reminder why covers are fun. Their overview of cover trends includes unicorns (appropriately rare), dragons, "glowy magic," swords (trending down), and damsels, who in 2008 were in distress and, in 2009, entered the survey with no distress at all. Other chart-style analyses include The Changing Face of Urban Fantasy Heroines, Title Trends and Fonts and Color Trends in the North American Dragon.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Image: Reading on Malibu beach. Credit: usestangerines via Flickr

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