I suppose it was only a matter of time, but I was still surprised to see an announcement of a documentary film debuting a the Tribeca Film Festival, called Out of Print. This film, directed by Vivienne Roumani, an independent producer/director based in New York City, explores the future of the book. Roumani, a former librarian has assembled an impressive group of interviews, including the late Ray Bradbury to consider the question of what will happen to the book.
On the web site for the film, the following description summarizes what the viewer can expect to see.
Web to Book: Drop Dead,” fun but jarring, was one of the headlines amid the growing barrage of news stories and books about the imminent death of the written word and the inevitable migration of our personal and collective knowledge and memory to machines. Especially as a former librarian, this growing view about the impact of the digital revolution was deeply troubling to me. Is the book as we know it really dead? Is the question even important in an always-on, digital world? I set out on a quest to find out what it really means to us as individuals, and as a society, to have the ability to answer nearly any question at lightning speed, anywhere, and at any time.
The complexity of the architecture of information became evident from the first interview: the bookseller led to the author, which led to the publisher, to the librarian, the reader, the pirate web site, the educator, the cognitive scientist; issues of copyright, preservation, knowledge, democratization, and diversity of access and sources were all intertwined. “Is the book dead?” was simply the starting point to get to the bottom of a time of transformation that ultimately affects every aspect of our society. The late Ray Bradbury, Authors Guild President Scott Turow, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, New Yorker and CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin, are among the participants that helped me unravel the issues that impact the very core of our civilization. I hope that the clarity that Out of Print offers is a starting point around which we can engage in a candid and fruitful discussion that will help direct our future.
What do you think about the future of the book? My position is as long as we long to tell and hear stories that impact our lives, there will always be a place for the book. Use the comment section to let me know your views.