Long Live the Physical Book–at least for now

Long Live the Physical Book–at least for now

jp-holiday-articleinlineSo it would seem that the death of the physical book and the physical bookstore is greatly exaggerated. According to The New York Times, bookstores are having a banner year. In part this is because some of the competition (i.e., Borders) is no longer a factor in brick-and-mortar retailing, a number of popular books (ironically including the biography of Steve Jobs, the very guy who sought to digitize and commodify the object in question) and a desire among consumers in a slowly recovering economy to give gifts that are attractive in a way that bits on a screen don’t quite emulate.

Also, content owners are, as they are prone to do, shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to digital retailing. Despite the fact the e-book readers are more affordable than ever with a growing proliferation of titles in e-book format, pricing strategies are frequently rendering physical books as less expensive than their digital counterparts, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Long live the dog-eared book, if only for another few years.

On another note, and though it has nothing to do with the normal realm of Black Gate matters, I’m sad to note the passing of Christopher Hitchens.  Right up to the end, he was one gutsy bastard.  Here’s what I presume was his last piece of Vanity Fair.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I second your praise of the dog-eared book. Last year my mother (bless her), bought me an e-reader. Though I use it for easy access to project Gutenberg and other books/magazines available in e-format only, I find I still purchase printed material. I need to the cover art, the yellowed pages, the publication history. Case in point: I just got an original copy of L. Sprague de Camp’s _Lest Darkness Falls_ (Galaxy Publishing, 1949), a kind of pulpy magazine with “acidy” paper and too narrow margins. It’s great! I can’t explain why… but, but it’s great! I know I’m not alone in my irrational enthusiasm for the material, printed word. This isn’t to say I’m not enjoying the plethora of writing available exclusively in electronic venues that would otherwise have not been available. Thanks for the post!

Dave T

I rather liked Hitchens, though I have more sympathy for the (general) moral principles of Christianity more than I do for its reliance on Christ and its specific concept of God to lend credence to its precepts.

I’d read somewhere that toward his end he recanted, much as I believe Bertrand Russell was supposed to have (my memory fails me re Russell).

Anyone know if Hitchens recanted?

Dave T

Just read (from the link above) Hitchens truly brave, profound, and touching pre-mortem, while he was in the very throes of his painful demise. Words fail me at this point, and I wonder (as I have often done), what I might say upon my impending demise, should death grant me such an opportunity. Whatever my thoughts may be, I doubt I could state them as eloquently.

I can’t find any legitimate reference to Russell recanting. I think that is probably wishful thinking/rumor spreading on the part of those who disagreed with his views.

I would imagine the same holds true for Hitchens.


Really Soyka? Do you have the power to read minds? No, of course not. You don’t even have the ability to comprehend what most Christians said and wrote about Hitchens. May he RIP.


Neither Russell nor Hitchens recanted. Nor, for that matter, did Charles Darwin, as is sometimes erroneously reported. Anthony Flew, however, did indeed recant.

However, it is extraordinarily stupid and ignorant to claim that religious believers who wish nonbelievers to recant “are less concerned about that person’s fate in the undiscovered country than some kind of smug validation of their own beliefs.”

To state as much is not only demonstrably untrue, it is more reflective of the individual’s personal issues with religion than the observable facts at hand.

I am a Christian, I am a sufficiently well-known critic of Christopher Hitchens that my book leaped to the top ten in the atheism category on Amazon after news of his death was reported, and I exchanged several emails with him over the years. He was not a friend of mine, but neither was he an enemy. I, too, would have preferred to hear he recanted, although I did not imagine for a moment that he ever would have. In any case, his recanting would not have provided any validation for my beliefs, smug or otherwise, any more than my beliefs are validated by the beliefs of the hundreds of millions of people who happen to share them.

And I am not even one of the many millions of Christians who are troubled by the idea that people will one day experiences the consequences they have chosen for themselves. The vast majority of Christians do not wish for anyone to suffer in Hell for precisely the same reason they do not wish them to burn to death in earthly fires. The fact that Soyka fails to recognize this simple human empathy says far more about Soyka than it does about those he falsely impugns on the basis of nothing more than his own imagination.


Read the seventh paragraph of Hitchens’s last Vanity Fair piece for just one example of how some Christians felt about him.

Oh please. Every single individual in the public eye hears from the crazies. And those who are controversial in any way get more than their fair share. I could send you a vast compendium of death wishes sent to me by atheists. That doesn’t mean many, much less most atheists deserve to be judged by the behavior of a few lunatics.

It’s not like it would be hard to find atheists who have taken smug satisfaction in the death of Pope John Paul II, after all.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x