Do Books Have More Appeal During Tough Times?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Books offer a reliable alternative to the so-called authorities of our world.

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-Chief

In today’s feature story about Book World Prague 2012, fair director Dana Kalinová notes that the fair sold out for the first time, despite the ongoing economic woes of Europe. When asked why — beyond the fact that the fair has worked hard to build its reputation and audience — she offered: “Maybe people are looking for something in books. I don’t know, but I would like to believe that.”

Yes, there may very well be something people are looking for in books that they can’t find elsewhere, especially when times are tough. But what is it? My guess: the information in books offers an alternative to the so-called authorities — be they politicians, bankers or the daily media — who are so often wrong these days. Books, rightfully or wrongly, come with genuine authority. And in an era of instant information, constantly changing opinions, and even outright fear, there’s something comforting in knowing that a book has been labored over (often for years) and, one assumes, vetted by interested parties with maturity, perspective and experience (something often lacking in our authorities). What’s more, if you don’t like what a book is saying, you can simply close it and put it on the shelf. You can’t do that with your political and economic leaders.

And let’s not forget something even more fundamental: on a dollar-per-hour basis, books still offer one of the very best entertainment value propositions available.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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.