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The perfect gift for book lovers: a beautifully designed hardcover in which two of the world's great men have a delightfully rambling conversation about the future of the book in the digital era, and decide it is here to stay.

'The book is like the spoon: once invented, it cannot be bettered.' Umberto Eco These days it is almost impossible to get away from discussions of whether the 'book' will survive the digital revolution. Blogs, tweets and newspaper articles on the subject appear daily, many of them repetitive, most of them admitting they don't know what will happen. Amidst the twittering, the thoughts of Jean-Claude Carrière and Umberto Eco come as a breath of fresh air. There are few people better placed to discuss the past, present and future of the book. Both avid book collectors with a deep understanding of history, they have explored through their work the many and varied ways ideas have been represented through the ages. This thought-provoking book takes the form of a long conversation in which Carrière and Eco discuss everything from what can be defined as the first book to what is happening to knowledge now that infinite amounts of information are available at the click of a mouse. En route there are delightful digressions into personal anecdote. We find out about Eco's first computer and the book Carrière is most sad to have sold. Readers will close this entertaining book feeling they have had the privilege of eavesdropping on an intimate discussion between two great minds. And while, as Carrière says, the one certain thing about the future is that it is unpredictable, it is clear from this conversation that, in some form or other, the book will survive.

Reviews

A storming book. The next best thing to sitting in Umberto Eco's living room after dinner; a dream collection of lucid and fascinating discussions

Nick Harkaway

Hurrah for philosopher and novelist Umberto Eco and playwright and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, who have come together to praise the medium... Fans of Eco and Carrière will be charmed

Wayne Gooderham, Time Out

An entertainingly free-range dialogue about writing past, present and future

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

The dialogue between these two superbrains is freakishly compelling and covers everything from papyrus scrolls to e-readers... Never fails to be enlightening and engaging... Hooray for this brilliant book

Dazed and Confused

This book is a reminder that the satisfaction of working through even a relatively short book comes in part through confronting digressions, dead ends and distractions: the hallmark of conversation between friends, not of Internet speed-reading

Wall Street Journal

As the conversation blossoms, the pair wander blissfully off topic into wider philosophical speculation about the nature of culture, for instance or humanity's curious relationship with past, present and future. And along the way there are plenty of pleasant diversions and anecdotes, taking in such diverse subject matter as Italian cinema forgotten French baroque poets, and the place of philosophy in contemporary European education systems. All this, naturally, informed by their love of books

Times Literary Supplement

They're great thinkers and talkers, with a lifetime of book-loving behind them, the pair digress into fascinating areas, discussing how new media give rise to their own languages, how we came to have the canon of great literature we do now and the effect that ephemerality, memory, religion and even fakery have had on the world of books

Herald

A lively exchange of views… it’s fun to eavesdrop on their conversation

Ian Pindar, Guardian

Playful and learned

Nick Clee, Observer

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099552451

    May 1, 2012

    Vintage

    352 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

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    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781446468203

    July 1, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    352 pages

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