Zaid, G. (2003). So many books : Reading and publishing in an age of abundance [Demasiados libros.] (1st Paul Dry Books ed.). Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books.
One of the subjects tackled by Zaid in this book is the difficulty of measuring the influence exerted by books. Do books affect our actions? Clearly ideas are spread through writing, but to what extent? Zaid points out that an author can sell many books and never become famous, while some authors achieve notoriety without writing (or selling) many books.
Without discounting its worth, Zaid also supports in his own way the notion of reading as pastime: “Reading is useless: it is a vice, pure pleasure” (p.74).
Written in 2003, it is interesting to note how many of Zaid’s arguments against the eventual demise of the book are no longer as strong as they were. He asserts that “No book requires electronic instructions explaining how to read it” (p.77) but (some) computer systems and electronic readers are becoming more usable with every iteration. He claims that radio and TV shows need to be accessed at a precise time while books can be read on your own schedule. Clearly this has changed with the advent of the Tivo and of Intenet-accessible radio and television programming. He claims that books are cheaper than other media, which similarly does not stand up in this time of free Internet content. He also suggests that although books can be produced for small audiences and still be viable, the same is not true ofother media. This is of course no longer true in a time when Internet radio stations and podcasts are happy to have small groups of committed listeners.