"I certainly never write a review about a book I don't think worth reviewing, a flat-out bad book, unless it's an enormously fashionable bad book." --
says, John Gardner in Conversations with John Gardner
Quoted from 'Dictionary of Library and Information Science Quotations'     Edited by Mohamed Taher & L S Ramaiah. ISBN: 8185689423 (New Delhi , Aditya, 1994) p.150. Available @ Amazon.com

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Livre, by Michel Melot

Serendipity, it seems, brought to my attention (synchronously) three different perspectives, contextualized within the frame-of-reference of the future-of-the-Book - as well as, dealing with computer-mediated communication:

First, is in today's newspaper, a review of Abebooks.com, "Old books' dot-com burst," by ELLEN ROSEMAN The Toronto Star, July 17, 2006:

Paradoxically that new media, the Internet, has rejuvenated trade in a media bound in tradition Ten years on, the Victoria used-book store that got in early now turns over $165 million in titles a year....

As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, Abebooks is running print advertising for the first time.

Building on its slogan, "If you can't find it here, it doesn't exist," the company has concocted a list of non-books that would never be written. Continue reading the full article

Second, is the following quote about how the computer is absorbing our time and young minds:
We all know about someone else who we know can finish our sentences. How about a computer that can finish our sentences? A virtual mirror of our brain and whatever it has memorized?
Certainly the reverse is true for the young people of the upcoming generation. Many of them are extensions of the characters in songs, movies and video games. To them, it is easier and more fun to absorb the programming of an electronic medium than it is to accumulate a lifetime of microexperiences that would become the intellectual essence of one's mirror medium. Continue reading When Virtual Reality Meets Mega Reality @ Magic of the Mind: An evolving book about imagination and innovation in the complex world...

And third, is about the future-of-the-book; a review of Livre, that popped up in my email today. I am simply amazed by the idea plane (presented so realistically in the verbal plane) as depicted in a new work on history of libraries and books (in French). [P.S. The following review is NOT from my desktop; rather, the review is written by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us.] And, an extract from the review is reproduced below:

Full citation for the book under review:
Auteur(s) : Melot, Michel
Titre(s) : Livre, / Michel Melot ; préface, Régis
Debray ; photographies, Nicolas Taffin
Publication : [Paris] : L'Oeil neuf éd., impr. 2006
Description matérielle : 1 vol. (197 p.) : ill. en noir et en
coul., couv. ill. en coul. ; 27 cm
Collection : Collection L'âme des choses
Sujet(s) : Livres
Livres et lecture
ISBN 2-915543-10-0

The French make beautiful books, and they write about them well. Among the leading such writers, currently, is Michel Melot. His volumes on French prints and libraries are well-known and make good reading. Now he has added an intriguing, stunningly - presented, thoughtful work on the uses and future of "the book".

The present book exhibits all of this experience and erudition well. But above all it is immensely-readable. Melot's subject, here, is the meaning of the thing we have called a "book": its limitations, its possibilities, the old uses to which it has been put, the new uses which only now perhaps are developing for it. How, exactly, do we appreciate the "book" as opposed to other products of the human imagination: is the book something derivative, something utilitarian, or something more of the
imagination, and one which affects us as we affect it?

And, whither the book now, in the digital age? That is Melot's "comma"... He is convinced, as most of us are now, that the reading of books will continue. But he is not convinced that we yet really understand in what directions. The "book" has many
surprises in it for all of us, it seems. Melot begins (p. 17)

"No sooner have you opened this book than it has disappeared before your very eyes, beneath the text which you are reading. Nevertheless you hold it, and you see
and you handle, opening it and turning its pages and closing it.

"At some point you will replace it on the shelf, to take it down again later on or to leave it there for a while. You will not discard it entirely, I hope, and it will
remain there, somewhere, forgotten perhaps but entire, unmoving, patient, awaiting other hands than your own, and other points of view.

"It even is possible that it will outlive you, possible also that it will be destroyed, but whatever happens, it has woven between you and me an irrevocable link, of which the very fibers of its paper, even more than the words
of texts which can lose their meaning, so durably bear witness.

"If you had read this text on your computer, things would have gone differently. It would have been, you believe, the same text. You read it the same way, you won't forget it, perhaps, but your computer will. The text will leave you if you don't 'save' it. You will keep only the computer, empty although open, and its possibility of offering you the reading of a thousand other texts, all equally-ephemeral..."

No less than Régis Debray -- sometime-professor of "médiologie" now, in Paris, and recently president of the ENSSIB national library school's Conseil Scientifique -- offers the Introduction, praising Melot's erudition and the originality of his thinking, reminding us that new technologies experience, "a first phase of
popularity, followed by a second of disenchantment", and that digital text is no exception: "one can imagine a complementarity, happy and pragmatic, between the computer screen and the book". Continue reading the Full review

See Also:
>>>>Another review by Jack Kessler: Word Matters - Multicultural perspectives on information societies
>>>> Forthcoming: Watch this site for comments on:
a) http://futureofthebook.com;
b) Institute for the Future of the Book's Website


Larry Kilham said...

Hi Mohamed -

I like your blog - it poses important issues. I am wondering for example if I want to do a second book based on my new blogs (I have published another book on unrelated topics)or just do it as an on-line book. I am about to retire, so I have lots of time (I assume) to play around with all of this.
Speaking of French writers, do you know Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who wrote about the "Noosphere," a global information concept which seems very apt for today.
Looking forward to keeping touch,

Best regards.

Larry Kilham

Mohamed Taher said...

Hi Larry:
Thanks for your good words.

I am not the author of that Book review of Michel Melot, nor I am familiar with French authors / literature. The person who is the source of inspiration for me on French literature is Jack Kessler. Please feel free to write to him at: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

I will be happy to talk with you about your book project. My hunt for publishers has a long story. In short, you keep trying, persistently--running from pillar to post--and then you are sure to succeed.
Best, Mohamed