How and Why Printed Books Will Survive

The Bully Pulpit

Julian Barnes

“I am more optimistic, both about reading and about books… I have no Luddite prejudice against new technology; it’s just that books look as if they contain knowledge, while e-readers look as if they contain information. My father’s school prizes are nowadays on my shelves, ninety years after he first won them. I’d rather read Goldsmith’s poems in this form than online.

The American writer and dilettante Logan Pearsall Smith once said: ‘Some people think that life is the thing; but I prefer reading.’ When I first came across this, I thought it witty; now I find it—as I do many aphorisms—a slick untruth. Life and reading are not separate activities. The distinction is false (as it is when Yeats imagines the writer’s choice between ‘perfection of the life, or of the work’). When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it. There…

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