Only profound excitement prevents me from writing a full blog entry today.
Friends came to dinner last night. One of them’s a sound engineer, and he told me he’d been doing some recording at the Getty Museum in Malibu over the weekend. While he was there, he found my new travel book on sale in the bookstore and was able to report that every copy had sold out by yesterday. That’s huge.
Huge because book sales generally are declining. We’re in an important period of transition that happens occasionally, moving between an old, tired format – the printed word: books, newspapers, magazines – and a new, sparkly bright one, of Kindles, Sony Readers, and a whole slew of e-reading devices that are in the pipeline and which, in time, will revolutionize our reading habits.
For instance, it’s unlikely you’ll be buying my future books at the Getty or any other store – I’ll be emailing them to you. I may even call you before I write them, to make sure you’re interested in reading them, stuff like that. It’s a bright new world.
From there, who knows? Some people, down the road, might actually develop a reading habit and start buying books again, where before they were content to waste whole evenings numbing their minds with mediocre television. As standards deteriorate and TV shows become steadily worse, to the point where most of them are just derivative mindless swill (a state known as being “utterly kardashian”), there’s a chance that quality prose, either in newspapers or books, might once again become attractive to a fickle general public looking for thrills.
Better still, as the next generation emerges, kids will find they no longer have to carry around heavy bags with text-books in, but are able to download them all onto a single thin gadget, a flat tablet that can be tucked in a backpack, their pocket, or even behind their ear. At that stage, quality fiction and non-fiction could become sexy (and profitable) again and find a whole new audience.
Y’know how in history they had major ages, like the Industrial Revolution, when everything in society changed and the human race marched off in a different, unforeseen direction? Well we’re at the start of one of those now. In the future, history books will be written about us, marveling at the way we coped with such cataclysmic changes. History books that won’t be published, mind you; they’ll go straight to Kindle and be deleted almost immediately.
Within the next five to ten years bookstores will become unviable and close down, newspapers and magazines will cease publication in print form, saving millions of trees and therefore the planet, and we’ll all resign ourselves, some not happily, to carrying around these zippy little flat-screen devices – there’s a new one from Apple on the way this year that will even support video and be in color – in much the same way we carry cellphones and Blackberrys.
Now, of course, when that happens, we’re as good as dead. We’ll be increasing tenfold our chances of contracting cancer from radiation. EMFs are already a major threat to our wellbeing. We each walk around in an invisible cloud of electromagnetic frequencies all day, and it’s only going to get worse. But hey, come on. We’re making history here! Dying horribly by being eaten from the inside is a small price to pay for the progress we now face.
And anyway, look on the positive side, while we’re lying terminally ill in hospital, these little gadgets will be a godsend, helping us keep in touch with the world by bringing magazines and articles to our bedside. Or – here’s a suggestion – how about my latest book, Naked in Dangerous Places? There’s a laugh on every page.
Did I tell you it sold out at the Getty this weekend?
By that point, the peculiar act of reading a fold-out tabloid newspaper or a single volume of fiction will seem as astonishing and antiquated as – oh, I dunno…listening to disco on a boombox, or finding something innovative and good to watch on the Travel Channel.
TV Swami – he say YES to dying prematurely but informed.