Shelf life: The future of the book

4 March 2010

Books

For almost 600 years, the printed book has provided mankind with education, information and entertainment, yet today the supremacy of Gutenberg’s technology seems under threat.

Has the humble book reached the end of its shelf life or is this merely a transitional phase during which books – like music and photography before them – become part of the digital age?

In this podcast to mark World Book Day, Professor Henry Woudhuysen, Dean of UCL Arts and Humanities and Co-editor of the The Oxford Companion to the Book talks about the new publication and the notion of the book as an object of desire and prestige.

Professor Woudhuysen is joined by UCL Publishing Centre’s Director of Teaching Professor Iain Stevenson, whose upcoming title Book Makers: British Publishing in the Twentieth Century is published by the British Library on March 22nd. Ian talks about the main figures within this highly creative industry and discusses the future of the book in light of wider debates around digitisation, the uprise of Kindle, the launch of iPad and e-books.

Professor Iain Stevenson will be hosting a Lunch Hour Lecture on the Future of the Book on Thursday 11 March. Please visit the links above to find out more.

The entire podcast is 22 minutes in length but you can listen to chapters via the links below:

Entire podcast (22 mins)

Introduction (1 min 37)

The Oxford Companion to the Book (3 mins 39)

The book as an object of desire and prestige (2 mins 21)

Book makers and British publishing (3 mins 48)

What happens to words when they enter the digital space (2 mins 48)

Digitisation: does it change our perception of the author? (2 mins 01)

The role of the book in our lives (5 mins 39)

Return to the author and conclusion (4 mins 28)