News of the death of books panicked some stockholders in Barnes & Noble. Responding to those concerns, the company put itself up for sale (Wall Street Journal article).
The pen didn’t kill the book. The typewriter didn’t kill the book. The pencil didn’t kill the book. Radio didn’t kill the book. Movies didn’t kill the book. Television didn’t kill the book. Telephone didn’t kill the book. Personal computers didn’t kill the book (much to the chagrin, perhaps, of the designers of the Apple Lisa — and if you remember that, and it’s coming with all the works of Shakespeare loaded on the harddrive, you’re older than your colleagues think you are).
In “A Dangling Conversation,” recorded in 1966 by Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon’s lyrics say, “We speak of things that matter/With words that must be said./’Can analysis be worthwhile?/Is the theatre really dead?'” Some other questions are similarly and equally unstuck in time, and I think “Is the book dead?” is one of them.
So long as there are books, and readers who demand books, there is a need for a bookstore. They may move to our libraries, but we’ll still need and want them.