Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ought Northern Voices to follow in the steps of the Encyclopedia Britannica?

ON the Church Street Market bookstall a poster declares 'KILL KINDLE & SAVE THE BOOK'. Last week, it was reported that the Encyclopedia Britannica ceased to be a printed publication as it embraced the Web and in a letter in the International Herald Tribune (IHT) a Mr. Fred D. White writes: 'It isn't just Encyclopedia Britannica that is being "reduced to a click", but all books seem to be headed in that direction, as e-book readers proliferate.' The same day a letter arrived at Northern Voices from someone called 'Danny' from Newry in County Down, who having picked up a copy of Northern Voices (NV) five years ago while studying at Huddersfield University, now decides to write: 'I'm not really an anarchist but I find such ideas highly interesting', and he requests a copy of NV.

Meanwhile, Fred White in the IHT writes: 'This digitization of print may be inevitable but we are losing something precious in our culture.' He argues: '...the Internet and its resources can never replace physical books, no more than a photograph of a Rembrandt can replace the actual painting. The very physicality of books plays a basic role in the learning experience. Physical books slow us down - we need to slow down - and foster deeper thinking. And yes, books are beautiful, inside as well as out.'

The forthcoming Summer issue of Northern Voices No.13 has an interview with ex-amateur boxer turn Manchester bookseller, Eddy Hopkinson, about the future of the book and the threat of the e-book. Eddy has been 42-years in the trade and is now the oldest second-hand bookseller in central Manchester. This local interview takes place at the same time as the University of Amsterdam Exhibition on 'The Printed Book: A Visual History'. Of this exhibition in the Herald Tribune Alice Rawsthorn wrote: 'The exhibition comes at a propitious time, when smart publishers are responding to the onslaught from e-books by adopting a more adventurous approach to design.' She, like Eddy Hopkinson in Northern Voices, thinks '... the printed book faces an uncertain future.' Ms. Rawsthorn reminds us that there have been technological threats before to the book trade, but thinks 'that it will probably become a niche product with high design values, and is likelier to be an artist's monograph or special edition of a literary novel, rather than a textbook or pulp fiction.'

It is anticipated that the bibliophile and Northern Voices' affictionado, Chris Draper, will address this topic when he addresses the Manchester Radical History Group meeting at the Town Hall Tavern on Tibb Lane near Albert Square, in central Manchester on Saturday 31st, March at 11am. If so he will have his critics from some of the modernists on the Northern Voices editorial panel. This meeting is a public meeting and the details are as follows:

Greater Manchester Radical History Group
Meeting to be held on Saturday 31st, March 2012:
Starting at 11am at the Town Hall Tavern,
on Tibb Lane off Cross Street
near Albert Square,

The physical printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 13 may be obtained as follows:
Postal subscription: £5 for two issues (post included)
Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' at
c/o 52, Todmorden Road,
Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.
Tel.: 0161 793 5122.
email: northernvoices@hotmail.com

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