Does the Book Still Have Cultural Primacy? Cheetham Raises Doubts

In What's the Buzz by Roger Tagholm

By Roger Tagholm

“The book has had a primacy from Homer to 1992 as the main cultural vehicle of information, entertainment, science, philosophy, literature,” offered publishing doyen Anthony Cheetham from the aisles of Earls Court yesterday.  “But I wonder if that primacy will remain.”


Anthony Cheetham

Why 1992? “Isn’t that when Amazon started?” continued Cheetham, who has just celebrated his 70th birthday in Paris and whose latest incarnation is leading the Head of Zeus publishing company.

Of course, it all depends on what one means by “book.” Cheetham believes the changes sweeping the industry require publishers “to look again at what we’re all doing, and I think that means we have to change from being generalists to specialists.”

He also posed this question: “What happens when a merged Penguin and Random House decide to go it alone on ebooks?”

About the Author

Roger Tagholm


Roger Tagholm is based in London and has been writing about the book industry for more than 20 years. He is the former Deputy Editor of Publishing News and the author of Walking Literary London (New Holland) and Poems NOT on the Underground (Windrush Press).