Is the Serendipity of Book Discovery Dead in the Age of E-books?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

by Edward Nawotka

bargain books

In today’s lead story Mark Mills discusses how he found the inspiration for his novel The Information Officer in book about the World War II siege of Malta he uncovered in a junk shop. What is interesting to note is that this might never have happened had we been living in a world entirely populated with e-books.

Browsing happens in the real world, bookstores, libraries and, indeed, junk shops. As libraries increasingly eliminate stacks in favor of computers, study areas and coffee shops; and bookstores continue to shrink, there are fewer opportunities to browse. Certainly you can “browse” e-books, but as Kevin Smokler discussed earlier, there’s no easy and efficient way of sampling a book online. The chance of making a random, genuine discovery is nothing but time consuming.

So, the the question is: In a world ruled by increasingly sophisticated algorithms — one’s that presume to know what you want to buy and the type of man or woman you want to date — is the serendipity of book discovery a think of the past in the age of e-books?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter using hashtag #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.