Links, articles, and webbish ephemera that have passed muster with if:book over the past week or so.

Though his argument buys somewhat into the notion that ‘only one shall survive’, Tim Parks at the New York Review of Books mounts a splendid case in favour of ebooks over print. This article  has been passed around quite a bit in the last week and for good reason. Really, the only significant thing we can add to this is: ‘what he said…’

E-Books Can’t Burn

Only the sequence of the words must remain inviolate. We can change everything about a text but the words themselves and the order they appear in. The literary experience does not lie in any one moment of perception, or any physical contact with a material object (even less in the “possession” of handsome masterpieces lined up on our bookshelves), but in the movement of the mind through a sequence of words from beginning to end.

Not that we want to flog the #LudditeFranzen meme into the ground, but perhaps the most cutting of all retorts came from Frank Coelho of Diesel ebooks.

An Open Letter (and a Challenge) to Jonathan Franzen

In fact, we must apologize to you for actually carrying and selling (quite briskly we might add) your books in digital format. We can only theorize that you accept the revenue reluctantly, and that you must be quite conflicted about your role in the unleashing of such unspeakable evil upon the planet.

O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference flew by while many of us slept last week, but details have trickled out via Twitter and various blogs. Calvin Reid at Publisher’s Weekly offered a quick round up which included a few details from LeVar Burton’s keynote presentation on the importance of science fiction.

TOC 2012: LeVar Burton, Libraries and The Bookstore of the Future

Burton, who is heading a startup multimedia children’s publishing venture called RRKidz that is based on his work hosting PBS’s Reading Rainbow program for many years, delivered an inspirational keynote speech focused on the role of reading—in particular science fiction—in his own life. Describing the impact of the science fiction—what he called the power of “what if” —Burton said the genre offered him “a process of imagining a world we’d like to see and explore,” emphasizing that reading was an “elemental” force in his home growing up.

And finally, a piece (actually a whole chunk) of good advice from a magician named Teller (the usually silent half of Penn & Teller). Originally an email to a struggling fellow magician, Teller’s advice is applicable equally to any creative enterprise and is worth reading in full. It’s both funny and true.

14 years ago: the day Teller gave me the secret to my career in magic

I should be a film editor.  I’m a magician.  And if I’m good, it’s because I should be a film editor.  Bach should have written opera or plays.  But instead, he worked in eighteenth-century counterpoint.  That’s why his counterpoints have so much more point than other contrapuntalists.  They have passion and plot.  Shakespeare, on the other hand, should have been a musician, writing counterpoint.  That’s why his plays stand out from the others through their plot and music.


Image by Allie Osmar Siarto (CC BY_NC 2.0)