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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Changing Novel in the Digital Age

“We think of the novel as a transcendent, timeless thing, but it was shaped by the forces of money and technology just as much as by creative genius,” writes Time magazine in a recent article about the future of literature ("Books Gone Wild: The Digital Age Reshapes Literature," Wed., Jan. 21, 2009). Due to technology a new business model is evolving and the magazine’s writers predict “the novel won't stay the same: it has always been exquisitely sensitive to newness, hence the name. It's about to renew itself again, into something cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic and more deliriously fertile than ever.”

As the stigma of self-publishing is removed, the result, according to Time is: “more books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City's entrenched publishing culture.”

In the 20th century, publishers supposedly acted as gatekeepers, making sure only the best literature got into print, but this process often didn’t work and shut out some good writing. Now that fiction can be published electronically and cheaply and distributed to a worldwide audience with a rising literacy rate, the form of the novel may actually change. We may see more serialized novels and while the old publishing model won’t go away, readers will have more choices and they will be able to read literature vetted by readers such as themselves.

Are the Time writers correct? Is the digital age is changing the form and content of the novel? What are your thoughts?

Don’t Miss . . .

Wednesday, Jan. 28, 11 a.m. Pohick Regional Library
Independent Living Project: Improve Your Nutrition. Cosponsored by the Department of Family Services’ Fairfax Area Agency on Aging. A series of programs for older adults and adults with disabilities. Sign up required. To sign or for accommodations, call 703-324-7210, TTY 703-449-1186 or e-mail jennifer.edge@fairfaxcounty.gov. Adults.

Saturday, Jan. 31, 1 p.m. George Mason Regional Library
Korean New Year Celebration. A Korean New Year celebration of Korean culture through traditional dance and the dramatic sounds of drum instruments. All ages.

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