Kindled by Amazon’s e-book service and the decline of good book reviewing, The New Republic‘s first-page editorial attacks The Battle of the Book.
In some quarters, the enemies of the printed book pretend that they are merely trying to save the book from the print–“the last bastion of analog,” as Jeff Bezos ominously told a reporter from Newsweek (prepare the gallows!); to save reading by digitalizing it. In other quarters–in our quarter, in American journalism–a new anxiety about profits has combined with an old philistinism to produce a kind of informal national purge of book reviewers and book reviewing. Even as government agencies are reporting that Americans are generally reading less, and reading scores in American schools are in sickening decline, and workplace managers are regularly startled by the levels of “reading comprehension” upon which they must rely, Americans are being instructed that they should prepare themselves, and gladly, to lose interest in the book, and even to watch it die.