Books are dead.
We here in the print media have decided that book-reading is over, and thus that newspapers have triumphed over yet another forum for information and entertainment that was starting to get up itself.
Journalist and former book-reader Ima Doolally says she’s amazed at how much time she used to spend reading books. “Hours and hours of my life I spent reading stuff like Jane Eyre, the Great Gatsby, Catch-22, Pride and Prejudice. I look back now and think God, what a waste of time. If I want to read something now I just look up Twitter. Look, I’ve just read that Jordan’s off to do a poo. Show me the book that will give me information like that.”
Having shown her the book as she asked (What Katy Did Next) we went and spoke to, well, another journalist. Hera Scary used to be in a book-club until someone offered to actually pay her for reading books. “Once I was getting paid for it, well, obviously I stopped doing it for free in my spare time,” she said.
Former journalists who move toward books, instead of the other way around, tend not to fare as well. The Sherlock Holmes stories were originally a series in a London paper. Conan Doyle then decided he would write them as books instead. And where is he now? Dead.
A guy who works in a bookshop agreed to talk to us on condition that we didn’t name him (he’s told his mother he’s an architect). He says that book-reading is dying out among the young. “Kids today don’t read books,” he says. “Well, apart from Harry Potter. And the Lord of the Rings. Oh, and Lemony Snicket. But that’s all. Oh, and the Twilight books. But nothing else. Oh, wait…”
Leaving him still talking we spoke to a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who was scathing about the fact that there are book awards. “They’re just a big clique, writing lovey-dovey stuff about each other,” he said, rather brilliantly I thought.
In an attempt to look as if we’d done some research and not just rung a few journalist mates we spoke to Damien Mulley, asking him did he read books. “Read books? Of course I do, ” he said. And which would he rather, to have his tonsils taken out, or be attacked by a panther? “What? Er, I’d rather have my tonsils taken out, I suppose.”
We then took what he said, and edited it for purposes of brevity.
“Read books? Of course I do, ” he said. And which would he rather, to have his tonsils taken out, or be attacked by a panther? “What? Er, I’d rather have my tonsils taken out, I suppose.”
See? Even Mulley says books are doomed.
And perhaps it’s not surprising. Yet another person from the newspaper world (he hands out the Metro outside Tara Street station) suggests that Ireland is too small to have a book-reading public. “Like, there are millions of books out there, man,” he says. “We just don’t have enough room to build a big enough bookcase, unless we knock down Clonakilty.”
So there you have it. Books suck, papers rock. As final proof, consider these three facts:
1. No mere author has ever risen to be a judge on Britain’s Got Talent;
2. You buy a paper every day. How often do you buy a book?
3. The greatest selling book of all time is the Bible. Yet it’s rumoured now that the publishers have been reduced to giving out free copies in hotel bedrooms.
If the Bible’s in that much trouble, the rest of the industry had better start praying.