As a writer about books (sometimes here, sometimes at the Guardian) and a would-be writer of books (it's always going slowly; don't bother asking), I find the much-hyped imminent implosion of the publishing industry deeply terrifying. As a reader (I have always found that nugget of linguistic zoomorphism 'bookworm' too benign for the rapacious, voracious hunger that possesses me around literature; I'm more a bookmoth, perhaps, or bookrpator), I find it somewhat mysterious.
Because I still rejoice in the huge number of authors being published - new and old, mainstream and edgy, on and offline. I still buy books in a variety of ways - freemium download, ebook, hardback, paperback. I still buy them for a number of reasons - because it's a favourite writer, or I've read a review in the paper, or online, or heard a recommendation from a friend, or because I like the dustjacket, or because it's three-for-two, or because I saw someone reading it on the tube. And then I quite simply read them, as I always have.
I'm part of that innovation-straddling generation of 'digital natives' (ugh) who still have pre-digital nostalgia. I remain ambivalent towards my eReader (although after having to check in my carry-on bag at Heathrow yesterday due to the weight of my guilty Jilly Cooper hardback comfort-read, I'm starting to think I should reassess its merits). In general, I don't understand why things have to be so either/or.
Why can't digital publishing sit alongside traditional? I am happy to pay for some things, and not for others, and I switch between different reading media several times every day. It applies to magazines too - I check out my favourite blogs, log into my online Times subscription and lick every new, heavy, shiny, perfume-stinky Vogue that monthly clunks old-fashioned through my door.
It was these kinds of thoughts (brewed late night, over a whisky sours and Lorrie Moore's excellent A Gate at the Stairs) that inspired my first column for new website Bookdiva, on the evolution of the bookshop.
Bookdiva is itself an interesting product of the new publishing landscape - a site for female readers (I'm not really sure what that means, but I'm going with it), created by a coalition of publishers eager to team news and reviews of their new releases with independent thinkpieces (that's me, poor things) and broader discussion about the book world from fellow bookdivas.
So go read, and what's more, comment. I don't see why we can't start envisioning the future of books - and bookshops, and child literacy, and libraries, and all those other supposedly endangered species - in a positive way.