Quick Link | I was wrong about the golden age. But we are in a literary boom | Books | guardian.co.uk
by Eoin Purcell
This is an interesting perspective. I suppose that like all booms, there will be big winners in small numbers and big losers in much larger numbers!
But if it’s not appropriate to speak of a golden age, there’s certainly some kind of boom going on. Ben Johncock’s recent Guardian blog on contemporary magazines illustrates how vital the print culture remains. Who could have predicted, in the age of the worldwide web, that so many little magazines would be flourishing so vibrantly? This goes to show, I’d say, that we are living through an age of almost unprecedented literary activity. Never before have so many been writing emails; blogs; texts; tweets; novels; poems, etc and never before has so much of this transmission been so widely received – globally, in fact. Never mind the quality that’s a later judgment, feel the width.Consider, too, the explosion of literary activity: from prizes hardly a week goes by without the announcement of yet another shortlist or the fall-out from some literary prize jury, to festivals hardly a town in Britain that’s not involved in, or affiliated to, some kind of literary programme, to ebooks annual sales in the US now soaring close to $1,000m. Audiobooks are booming; writing schools are springing up like mushrooms; any amount of excellent self-publishing is happening. The big book chains are in trouble, but several small independent bookshops are defying both gravity and austerity and doing very nicely, thank you. If this – as some commentators like to predict – is the end of civilisation as we know, bring on the Dark Ages.