In a recent speech to the Stationers’ Company, Gail Rebuck, chairman and chief executive of the Random House Group, offered a hopeful perspective on the enduring role of books amidst digital change.
“The speeches of Barack Obama are seamlessly woven into rap videos on YouTube,” Rebuck said, “but he started with a book, ‘The Audacity of Hope,’ which was the anchor and beacon of his campaign. And when he finishes, he will end like Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair –- with a book. Books give life, give purpose, give meaning – they are like music, art and song –- part of the essence of our humanity –- and that will never change.”
The rise of eBooks, Rebuck noted, is an opportunity that dovetails with a developing paradox among consumers. Readers looking for instant information can find it in the digital domain, but readers seeking substance and depth will still find it in print editions.
“These contradictions will not suddenly disappear and a new map of digital publishing emerge with sharp contours and clear distinctions. But the eBook and the traditional book will claim different parts of the topography.”
The full text of Rebuck’s speech is worth a read.