lament

... the dizzying range of easily accessible material on the internet conspires with a lack of editorial guidance to make web reading a disjointed experience that works against the sustained concentration required for serious reading.

There is an interesting piece in the London Review of Books from Colin Robinson about the impact of global economic woes on publishing. As the byline has it, "Colin Robinson until recently worked for a large publisher in New York." He outlines the pressures facing the principal cast of the publishing ecosystem (to mix my metaphors), including writer, editors, producers, retailers, and readers.

Robinson's comments on the effect of electronic communication and the internet on the life of books could be judged as accurate or out of step, depending on your perspective. (I'm not going to go there on the "For all the claims of their optical friendliness and handiness, e-books still strain the eyes" remark.) Yes, there is a lot of rubbish content on the internet, and yes society seems to be moving towards a sort of chronic individualism that exhibits itself online. But is that dreadful for publishing and reading?

Robinson points to a possible solution - that the editor's powers of curation and provision of status to some writing over other writing will migrate from paper to internet. "There is opportunity as well as challenge in this model. The roles of editor and publicist, people who can guide the potential reader through the cacophony of background noise to words they’ll want to read, will become ever more important."

Perhaps what Robinson has a sense of losing is, to draw an analogy, a hansom cab for a yellow cab. That would be the other perspective.

"This is not to say that the book is doomed. But publishers will surely have to change the way they do business", writes Robinson, and I'm sure we all agree.