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Comment from the book world in July 2008

July 2008

'The most important thing in life'

21 July 2008

'Books are the most important thing in life to me. I want to be doing the thing I love best. It's a need to process life, instead of just taking what life throws at you and being passive, a need to take life and make something of it.'

Sophie Hannah in the Independent on Sunday

'The birth pangs of a golden age'

14 July 2008

'It remains the paradox of the world wide web and the global economy that, while this has been the decade in which millions have found a voice through the internet, only a minority has discovered an audience. Self-expression has been democratised, but books and writers still face that age-old struggle to achieve a readership. How they do that remains a mystery, but in the alchemy of literary success, 'word of mouth' remains essential...

'Behind the brilliant facade of new technology, new money, and new markets, there has indeed been a massive interior renovation in the house of books: senior editors taking early retirement, small imprints selling up, little magazines folding, middle-aged writers giving up and corner bookshops closing down countrywide. At the same time, introspective, old-style bookishness has been replaced by another icon of these times - the literary festival...

'What I have described are the birth pangs of a golden age. The market for the printed book is now global; the opportunities for the digital book are almost unimaginable. To be a writer in the English language today is to be one of the luckiest people alive.'

Robert McCrum in the Observer

'Confident and optimistic'

7 July 2008

'Bookselling is a noble profession and physical bookstores do have a future. Books are the essential cornerstone of civilisation and fundamental to human knowledge. Our stores have a huge role to play in the cultural life of particular areas. Bookshops should reach out to neighbourhoods and be involved with the community - they perform an important social function.People want experiential activity that you cannot get online - most book-lovers do want to interact with other people.'

The book trade is relatively safe. It is well established and stable. There are more books sold than ever before, the market is growing and more people are reading. Its profits and margins are also significantly robust. I think the trade should be confident and optimistic.'

Luke Johnson, Chairman of Borders UK, at the Booksellers' Association conference, in Publishing News