Sunday, September 22, 2019

"Books Won’t Die"

The Paris Review:
...In 1992, hyperlinks were the killer app. Coover’s title punned on the page-turning powers of the codex, which sweeps novel readers inexorably from Page 1 to The End. (The codex replaced the scroll, millennia before, precisely because it allowed early Christians to flip hyperactively through their scriptures.) Yet chronology makes it hard to believe that the hyperlink was killing the book, because that metaphor predates the web. In 1835, Théophile Gautier’s novel Mademoiselle de Maupin declared that “the newspaper is killing the book, as the book killed architecture.” Gautier was one-upping Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, which depicted an archdeacon worrying that the book would kill the cathedral and a bookseller complaining that newfangled printing presses were killing scribes’ trade. This nineteenth-century historical novel is set a quarter century after Gutenberg’s first Bible, when a thriving industry of manuscript-on-demand was forced to readjust....

Ah yes, the manuscript-on-demand,  you can almost hear the 14th century elevator pitch:
"My liege, it's like Uber but for urban scriptoria"