Bill Keller, the editor of the New York Times, thinks too many people are writing books and we need to cut back. I’ve long thought the same thing; if fewer books were published and the books that were published were better, the world would be a more productive and more learned place. Flannery O’Connor agreed; when asked whether she thought college writing programs discouraged promising young people from becoming writers, she answered, “Not enough.”Bill suggests a voluntary moratorium. I think we’d have better luck with a government program. There used to be a Soil Bank; farmers would agree not to grow any crops for a year and the government would send them a check. Maybe we need a Strategic Idea Reserve and authors could get checks for not writing books.In any case, Ecclesiastes noted more than two thousand years ago that “of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” (12:12 KJV). In those days books had to be copied by hand and publishers paid no advances.The urge to write books is hard to kill. The urge to read is less hardy.
The Death Of Books
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