Coover's aim was to escape from the limitations of the printed book with its bound pages, and he found a kind of formal freedom in a collaborative process whereby different writers fed into a text made up of discrete, connected sections. Anyway, he was quite happy about this and prophesied that the future of books lay in hyperspace rather than the bookshop, but Lorna wasn't keen. Books had been central to her career and her life - books as objects as well as texts - and she did not respond well to the prospect of their demise.
But we need to be aware of what we lose by going digital in our reading. Downloading music is not the same as listening to a record or a CD, and there is to my mind less pleasure to be had in the music itself when you take away the rituals of visiting the record store, leafing through covers known and not known, making a choice, then, once home, removing the record (CDs have never been as much fun) from its sleeve and studying the sleeve notes as the record starts up.
As a child I could spend hours in a bookshop, a 50p book token in my pocket, exploring authors known and unknown, feeling the different shapes and weights of books by Arthur Ransome or CS Lewis or Malcolm Saville. A big hardback book on cricket or exotic animals offered luxurious pleasures: glossy paper that smelled of ink, an almost endless succession of pages, colour pictures... My mother has books on her shelf that were her Christmas treats more than half a century ago - I can't imagine anything computer-based lasting five years let alone fifty.
this recent post by Emily Rhodes on the Spectator's Arts Blog, in which she did the opposite of 99% of book reviewers and focused on books produced by small publishers rather than corporate giants. It is a curious fact of life in an age of endless media coverage that a tiny number of books get all the attention - as technology proliferates so our intellectual horizons shrink - and as someone who has books published by small (but perfectly formed) publishing companies I was happy to see Emily choose one of mine for inclusion in the season's most imaginative Top Ten Books.
'Ravilious in Pictures: The War Paintings' (Mainstone Press) was designed, like its predecessor, to be enjoyed as a thing of beauty and, happily, this is why Emily chose it and another nine books including 'Visitation' by Jenny Erpenbeck (Portobello Books) and 'The Local' by Maurice Gorham, which is published under the fabulous new Dovecote Press imprint, Toller Books. She writes: