I would agree with Dan on this:
One wonders if Mr. Fox’s customers were still inclined to poke about in
his store, "making a small pile of books," perhaps occasionally
chatting up the employees or other customers, he would be so glum about
the state of reading. There may indeed be an "acceleration of our
culture" going on, but this seems to be the source of Fox’s despair,
not the devaluation of books. Wandering around bookstores and engaging
in high-minded conversation is a lifestyle habit that may or may not be
preferable to the satisfaction-now style of living; that its
disappearance means that books themselves must no longer matter is a
considerable leap in logic that I’m not willing to make.
It seems to me that the faster other parts of life become, the more people would want a time out, which the presumably "slow-paced" act of reading would provide.
Like everyone, I’ve had certain periods in my life where it’s been run-run-run from one thing to the next. I don’t think I’m alone in getting worn out by that pretty fast . . . after a few days of the supercharged life, I’m about ready to do whatever it takes to spend some time with a restful activity. Maybe there are millions of people out there who get off on a constant orgy of overstimulation, but I really doubt that.
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