Sunday, 20 January 2013

snow, change opportunity and uncertainty, ebooks v 'real' books, oxford english, a conscious englishman, margaret keeping, linda newbery

Snow arrived in Oxford and west Oxfordshire on Friday. Some disruption to travel but not much, thankfully. Not as bad as the past two years. The predicted heavy falls this afternoon didn't materialise. The roads will be icy tomorrow, though.

Last week was Oxford First Week and seemed busier than usual. Lots of admin and meetings during it and Noughth Week. All rather fascinating, even so. The impact of the digital revolution is being scrutinised and responded to throughout the University, as plans for the coming years are drawn up. A time of change and opportunity, as well as uncertainty.

Same in publishing, of course. I've been heartened, nevertheless, by some articles about the importance of the book, as opposed to the ebook, recently. There was The Book Bounces Back in last week's Sunday Times and Why Printed Books Will Never Die on Mashable (not behind the News International paywall!). Why was I heartened? Well, having been excited by ebooks for many years, I have to say I do love 'real' books. True, they're bulky and a nightmare to house, whether at home or in libraries, but they are great to work with and enjoy. Academics also raise an interesting point about referencing--the problem of how to cite a page reference, when there are no pages as such in an ebook. Well, I'm sure a way round this will be found--if it hasn't already--but the culture of citation in respect of physical books is so fail-safe and unambiguous. The rise of the ebook won't cease but I hope that e and physical books will co-exist. As my friend Lorna Fergusson put in a discussion recently, 'What I wish is that we could debate all this in a non-confrontational manner accepting that for most of us it's not a case of "either/or" but "both/and".'

Pleased to receive my copy of the second issue of Oxford English, the annual magazine published by the Oxford English Faculty. Well produced, apart from anything else, and only available, as far as I can see, as hard copy.

Meanwhile, very, very pleased to receive some wonderful comments about StreetBooks' forthcoming title, A Conscious Englishman by Margaret Keeping from the novelist Linda Newbery, who wrote: 'Her [Margaret Keeping's] writing is very assured and she has the necessary eye for place, detail, weather and seasons to write about Edward Thomas...I hope the book will reach the wide audience it deserves and feel sure that many others will enjoy it as much as I have.'

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