Critical Linking: October 26, 2012

Yet bookstores provide something irreplaceable that we shouldn’t easily relinquish. Their knowing charms and surprises (even, admittedly, their parochialism and occasional cluelessness) spring from the people who run them and who decide what they will carry.

This makes sense to me, but is there any reason such a sensibility can’t be created online? Has anyone tried a more rigorously selected online book shopping experience?


Overall advertising revenue declined 8.9 percent but the company did see a bright spot in the form of a 7.4 percent increase in circulation revenues. Digital subscriptions to the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune were up 11 percent since the last quarter to a total of 566,000.

Man, watching the NYT try to catch the knife before it stabs them in the chest is a gripping, quarterly drama.


We want to say that on the one hand are the good books, the hard books, the books that require dedication of the reader, of the work readers do. The books that Real Writers (apparently a self-selecting class) write. And then there are these others. Yet it’s a strange thing to watch book culture, which is itself in a perpetual stage of fear about its own decline, slice off pieces of its very own flesh.

This feels strange because it’s not actually about value; it’s about status.


Like  well-adjusted children eventually do, English lives its own life. We can tell it to clean itself up and act more like one of the Classical languages (I bet Latin doesn’t sneak German in through its bedroom window, does it?). We can threaten, cajole, wheedle, beg, yell, throw tantrums, and start learning French instead. But no matter what we do, we will never really be the boss of it. And that, frankly, is what makes it so beautiful.



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