Saturday, June 13, 2009
Dan Clowes' whimsical fantasy homage to the book
We live in a time of unprecedented change in the book publishing industry, on the verge of the greatest shift in how people read books since the days of Gutenberg. Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader are just the beginning. The world is still waiting for a better, less expensive electronic book interface, but it's clearly coming. We're all waiting to see what it will look like, the end of more than half a millennium of books on paper being printed on presses and bound into collections of pages to be read and turned. That's why I love this cartoon by Dan Clowes, the cover of The New Yorker's current Summer Fiction Issue: In some distant imagined future, a little green man sits in the archaeological ruins of our civilization, amid the wreckage left by humanity in a landscape that nature is taking back. He is smiling, surrounded by broken digital detritus and reading an actual, physical book, printed on paper.