I have always been energized by good books. I am not at all persuaded that all that is worth reading has been written by the classical (Greco-Roman) writers, as is the contention of fervent classicists. It is not even true that it suffices, for one's liberal education, to stop one's reading at 1930, or 1950.
The contemporary society is responding to entirely unprecedented challenges, due to the globalizing influence of technology. Therefore its responses are not anticipated by the ancients. It is fascinating to observe and understand our world at this very instant. And this requires that we read contemporary writers.
It is therefore reassuring that, by all accounts, the book industry is thriving, despite the Internet.
The information and knowledge explosion continues with increasing pace. According to Bowker's latest statistics (for 2008), there were 289729 new titles and editions published (in Angloshere, not worldwide, I suppose) in 2008. This works out to one title every 1.82 minutes, and 791.6 titles every day. Of course such publishing activity overwhelms one. But as an indicator of a literate and curious society, it is gratifying.
This is a summary of the 2008 book statistics for some categories that interest me:
Category New titles minutes/title titles/day
Total 289729 1.82 791.6
1.Fiction 53058 9.93 145.0
2.Literature 10843 48.61 29.6
3.Language 6181 85.27 16.9
4.History 13477 39.11 36.8
5.Philosophy, Psychology 12605 41.81 34.4
6.Religion 18296 28.81 50.0
7.Biography 11375 46.33 31.1
8.Travel 5101 103.32 13.9
Sum of 4,5,7 (core interests) 37457 14.07 102.3
In contrast, Whitaker's Cumulative Book List shows that in 1977, 36322 new titles and editions were published in the UK, This is equivalent to 99.5 new titles every day, a deluge even then.
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