a wonderful way of questioning it! personally, i love the books.


If you’ve been following our coverage of the disruption of the publishing industry, you know that the meaning of the term “book” has become pretty fluid, thanks to the e-book revolution; and it’s not just the Kindle, but new offerings like Byliner and Atavist, which blur the lines between books and magazines, and even new variations on an old format like serialized fiction. So do physical books really matter any more? Is there something special about them, or are they just a historical artifact whose time has come and gone?

Internet curmudgeon Nick Carr attacked this particular question in a recent post on his blog, and got into an interesting debate with digital-media theorist Clay Shirky via the comments. Ironically, while Shirky is often criticized as a purveyor of wishful thinking about media, it is Carr who argues there is something ineffable and mysterious about the format we…

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