Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

The Future of the (Good) Book is in the Past

Prof. David Emblidge.

No matter what new technology may offer to the Editor - Author relationship, nothing technological can substitute for imagination, good taste, and an artful use of language and illustrative materials in making a good book. These are not technical skills, nor do they depend on technology, either hardware or software. Editor – Author dialogue, collaborative brainstorming, outlining and re-outlining, drafting multiple revisions of text to clarify and refine appropriate voice and viewpoint, sketching layouts with paper and pencil…: ALL of these steps are required to make a good book, and ALL of them were well established skills and practices long before computers entered the picture.

Whatever speed might have been gained or postage costs saved by virtue of using electronic manuscripts or page layout files and file transfer systems, there has been no improvement in the quality of narratives, the logic of organization, or the clarity and beauty of prose style because of the computer. Indeed, an argument can be made, that there is an inverse relationship between an Author’s engagement in the new technology of writing on the computer and the quality of his or her manuscript. Why? Because we have produced now a new culture of writing in which the technology applied to literary composition has become a distraction, for many Authors, from the act of writing itself.


Prof. David Emblidge  (United States)
Associate Professor
Writing, Literature and Publishing Department
Emerson College

  • Writing
  • Editing

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)