After a series of delays (I hear this is how things go in Hollywood), I’m pleased to debut The Late Age of Print video at long last. It’s no “Thriller,” admittedly, but hopefully you’ll get a kick out of it anyway.
Here’s a little back-story for those of you who may be interested. Last fall my editor at Columbia informed me that the Press had begun promoting some of its books using short videos. He then asked me if I’d be interested in shooting one for Late Age. Since I’m not someone who believes that electronic media are out to kill books — I’m quite confident in their ability to help books out, in fact — I decided I’d say yes.
I was a little daunted by the prospect of shooting the video, mostly because I’m a methodological writer who’s unaccustomed to speaking in sound bites. I reflected on this a bit last December over on my other blog, Differences & Repetitions. In hindsight, that should have been the least of my worries.
In chapter 2 of Late Age I touch on how the campus bookstore at Indiana University (where I teach) was designed by Ken White, the architect who went on to create the big-box bookstore template. What better location for the video shoot, I thought, than at ground-zero of the big-box bookstore phenomenon?
Unfortunately, IU decided in 2007 that it would be a good idea to outsource campus bookstore operations to Barnes & Noble — about whom I write rather approvingly in Late Age. The long and the short of it is that Barnes & Noble denied my requests to shoot the video there.
I still find it difficult to fathom how a private sector company would — or even could — refuse the use of public property for a purpose such as this. In any case, I’m sure I could have complained to the University, but by then so much time had elapsed that I just needed to get on with the shoot.
I settled on the IU Lilly Library, which houses rare books and manuscripts. It’s a truly lovely location, though I fear that it may inadvertantly up the “book fetishist” quotient that I try so hard to mitigate in Late Age. The videographer also had me harp on the “books aren’t going away anytime soon” theme, which, though appropriate, doesn’t quite get at the substance of the book, which focuses on e-books, book superstores, online bookselling, Amazon.com, and Harry Potter.
Anyway, despite all the drama I’m still pretty pleased with the result. I hope you like it, too. Please share it, rate it, and comment on it. I’d love to hear what you think!
Now that I’ve entered the video age, would it be asking too much for Colbert to call?