Ring the Bell, Close the Book

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.

9 thoughts on “Ring the Bell, Close the Book

  1. Jo

    Are you sure it’s not blogging that’s dead?

    I’m afraid books have become a little bit dead, in terms of sales. But, ach, it won’t last.

  2. tinman18 Post author

    That’s scary, Jo, you were commenting here at exactly the same time I was over at yours.

    Which proves what they’re saying about us all being a clique, I guess.

  3. A Frend

    I can’t wait for books to die! When books die, I will no longer have to try to beg, borrow, build or steal 50m of shelf space for our books in our new flat. And that’s just the books we own now.
    By the time we have self-assembled the 12 Billy Bookcases from our Scandinavian overlords, we will need another 20m of shelving, given the current rate of book-buying in our house.
    Death of books? Bring it ooooooon!

  4. Rose

    A friend got a kindle for Christmas. She asked me to hold it in my hands to see “how good it feels”. It was cold and awkward to me. She is trying to save trees or something. Normally I would buy a book for her Christmas gift. This year, she said I can go to a .com and buy a gift certificate so she could “download a good book”. I can click, and send, and never see her in person. Or watch her eyes light up when she un-wraps a new book. Wrapping paper, wastes trees too! Wow! How can reading books die? I love a good book. I love the way it smells and feels and looks on my bookshelf, like some trophy, I’ve won. Reading as a child was difficult for me. I think because of ADD or some other letters that mean, I was fidgety and couldn’t concentrate. Now that I’m older, I understand the importance of sitting quietly, sipping a cup of tea, and being thoroughly entertained by the words of others (fact or fiction). And as far as “book-reading is dying out among the young”. Look at all they have already lost. A report on the news the other day said that the subject of Cursive writing is not going to be taught in future years, in the US. How does one sign one’s name with out it? Kind of scary!

  5. tinman18 Post author

    I’m not sure if it came across that this post was a joke, trying to spoof the “blogging is dead” debate going on at the moment.
    I reckon books will never die, because they just feel like books. Kindle can never replace that.
    When the Irish Times became available online I thought “great, now I won’t have to buy it every day”, but I soon found that I was only reading little bits of it online, and went back to buying it.

  6. tinman18 Post author

    And yes, I’ve been on “Pimp my Blog” and re-decorated it. I knew the font was very small in the old format but I thought that was because I was looking at it on a netbook with a very small screen, but I saw it on a desktop recently and realised it actually was very hard to read.


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