Is The Book More Important Than The Text?

The major Canadian literary prize, the Giller, was won in 2010 by Johanna Skibsrud’s “The Sentimentalists”. This book was published by a small boutique outfit called Gaspereau Press and was available only in a small edition typical of small presses (they specialize in runs of between 400 and 4,000 copies). The Giller would generally add tens of thousands to sales and a number of larger publishers offered to print a large run. Gaspereau however refused all offers, dismissing Random House et al. as people he wouldn’t want to do business with, and strongly defending tiny quality print runs.

That is one part of an interesting story. The other came in an interview that the publisher at Gaspereau had on CBC Radio where it was noted that Gaspereau has made an e-Book version of “The Sentimentalists” available to anyone online. The publisher dismissed that as merely “the text,” comparing it slightingly with the “book” and being condescending to those who would be content merely “to consume the text” rather than hold the book in their hands.

I understand where he is coming from but I am sure he simply does not see how that diminishes the author, who in this scheme of things merely wrote “the text”, and puts the publisher/binder in the position of artistic genius above them. The book is mightier than the text. Hmmm, I don’t think so.

I’m not interested in reading rubbish no matter how beautifully the physical object is crafted; and I would be happy to read DeLillo and Dos Passos and Richard Brautigan on scrap pieces of paper rather than not read them at all.

 

One Response to Is The Book More Important Than The Text?

  1. Glinda Harrison says:

    Reblogged this on The eBook Evangelist and commented:
    This is an interesting form over function argument that most of us who have transitioned to e-books have already come to terms with. Here, in true postmodernist fashion, the book has become an objet d’art. :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: