I’m not really sure how I feel about his idea (shown right) but he does make some good points about the speed of change and whether it’s going so fast that some people aren’t really thinking it through.
Tell me about the decision to place the ad.
I do a lot of things to try to raise level of awareness of what’s going on in country right now. This is an unusual and different time for books, the most unusual in the history of this country. E-books are fine and dandy, but it’s all happening so quickly, and I don’t think anyone thought through the consequences of having many fewer bookstores, of libraries being shut down or limited, of publishers going out of business — possibly in the future, many publishers going out of business.
A lot of it had to do with getting kids reading. I have a site for school librarians, teachers, and kids to go to — readkiddoread.com. It’s a fairly big site: it does a fair amount of good. And I will have 400 scholarships for teachers at 21 universities this year. I’m giving 300,000 books.
So do you think a bailout of books is actually realistic? Or was it a kind of purposefully outlandish “Modest Proposal“?
I don’t think it’s a question of bailing out, necessarily. In Germany, Italy, and France, they protect bookstores and publishers. It is widely practiced in parts of Europe. I don’t think that’s outlandish. But people have mixed feelings about the government doing anything right now.
I haven’t thought about it but I’m sure there are things that can be done. There might be tax breaks, there might be limitations on the monopolies in the book business. We haven’t gotten into laws that should or shouldn’t be done in terms of the internet. I’m not sure what needs to happen, but right now, nothing’s happening.
The press doesn’t deal with the effects of e-books as a story. Borders closing down is treated as a business story. Where we are in Westchester during the summer, you’d think that’d be a bookstore haven, and there’s nothing. And that’s not unusual. I don’t think we can be the country we’d like to be without literature.
Read the full interview @ Salon.com.