paper trail

May 31, 2010 @ 10:00:00 am

BEA rolls out of town

As BEA wrapped up last week, Carolyn Kellogg observed that at an Expo aglow with iPads, it was "telling that the hot trend for fall books is dystopian fiction." Why is the dystopian novel experiencing a renaissance in Western literature after its absence for the past few decades? In an essay in Bookforum's summer issue, Keith Gessen tracks dystopia from Orwell and Huxley to Tumblr and Facebook (including a saga that peaked on the web platform Plurk), writing that the Internet has "brought into being one of the fears common to most dystopian novels and developed with some detail in 1984: that everyone would know what we were thinking. Except unlike in 1984, it's been done entirely voluntarily, through blog posts, Facebook updates, and, of course, Plurks."

Screens of Glass: Whitmanesque poets, conspiracy theorists, and unheralded Great American Novelists take note; Apple will allow self-published books in their iBookstore. But as always with Apple, there's a catch—the book must be encoded using a newish Mac.

With the constant stream of talk about iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and the like it is easy to forget that e-books' place in the future of reading depends entirely on e-bookstores, and with Google joining the fray, the forecast is still cloudy.

The Guardian's Hay festival is just getting underway in the UK—follow all the action on the paper's festival page. Sunday's buzz was created by Pakistan's former president, Pervez Musharraf, who campaigned for a return to office, boasting of a sizable Facebook following.