Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Death of the Book foretold - again!


The news that Amazon has got into the electronic book trade with the launch of the Kindle has provoked the usual discussions as whether this is another step towards the death of the book - the demise of the printed page, and of course, the inevitable decline of literacy as electronic media takes over the world.

In short, bah humbug all round, as we stumble into another episode of the century old soap, The Good Old Days. On the note, I still take heart of the old monk who bemoaned the arrival of paper ["made from germ laden old clothes, you are kidding me!"] and that nothing would replace the smell of parchment.


Closer to home, and with considerable more focus, BookMan Beattie, rightly, has a pop at Pearsons/Penguin's determination to kill the old Reed publishing brand in New Zealand., and the replacement with the awkward Raupo Publishing.


For myself, the modest wall of books in our apartment is one of the great treasures of my life. However, I'm equally clear that this wall is it. If I want another book on the shelf - then something has to be taken of the shelf and put in the stack downstairs in the storage area. Occasionally I cull these, with Jasons Books my favorite stop.

And there's the rub. Books are always being culled - books are always going out of print - books are always being thrown out and abandoned. In short, they don't last for hundreds of years, unless they end up in the likes of the Turbull . End of story.

Or is it? Perhaps not - take a bow the Electronic Text Centre, et al who have just posted the following:

The New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
Collaboration between Victoria University's New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, the University Library's JC Beaglehole Room and the Alexander Turnbull Library has brought back to life some treasures from New Zealand's literary past.

As Associate Professor of English at Victoria University, Jane Stafford says, the collection of nineteenth century 'Maoriland' literature represents an important part of our cultural history.

She goes on, "Although the term 'Maoriland' can evoke a world of saccharine fantasy in which heroic Maori warriors and seductive Maori maidens inhabit outmoded Victorian literary forms, this colonial literature is lively, complex and significant, and marks the beginnings of a self-consciously New Zealand literature."

The hope is that by increasing access to these texts, the project will stimulate further scholarly examination and a wider appreciation for the importance of this period of New Zealand literary history.

The first thirty-two titles from the digital collection to have just been made available online and can be accessed along with an introduction by Jane Stafford.
Wonder what they will look like on a Kindle. Would be fun to find out!
If anyone has one can they let us know?

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