The Book’s Alive and Well, Thank You

January 2001
by Bill Becker, BB Communications

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“Reports of my death,” said Mark Twain, “have been greatly exaggerated.” So it is with reports of the death of the printed book. From so much of what one reads and hears nowadays, one would think that the book as we know it lies taking its final gasps, mortally wounded in the cross fire of warring new information technologies.

Rumors of the book’s demise abound but, like those about Twain’s death, probably only extend their subject’s renown. Publishers are not likely to mistake the rumors for reality. They’ve been hearing them for some time while the publishing industry has grown and grown up.

But what about those constant reports from the war-ravaged information front? I’m a writer and, like a publisher, I’m obliged to monitor them, for I rely on the machinery of content for ideas. But, like a publisher, I know that books are alive and well. I’m often engaged to write or co-author them — whether for a smaller publisher such as Zinn Publishing Group in New York (Dr. Lynne Freeman’s Panic Free: Eliminate Anxiety/Panic Attacks Without Drugs and Take Control of Your Life, 1995) or a larger, better known one such as McGraw-Hill (my own Business Week’s Ten Trends of the Global Economy, 1997).

My swimming against the tide has taken the form of refusing to accept the reports at face value. I now consider all coverage on the death of the book to be suspect and find it often to be sensational, ill-founded, or specious.

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