Our special report on books and the future of publishing is brim-full of reasons to be optimistic. People are reading more, not less. The Internet is fueling literacy. Giving books away online increases off-line readership. New forms of expression -- wikis, networked books -- are blossoming in a digital hothouse.
Among the evidence of a bright future:
Publishers should stop worrying about copyright. Electronic publishing won't lead to the death of book. "In fact, University of Iowa library conservator Gary Frost takes the opposite -- and optimistic -- view that 'screen-based reading and the digital revolution ... are actually going to engender a renaissance of print.'"
How the Internet saved literacy. "'You aren't just a consumer of text anymore,' says Margaret Mackey, a professor at the University of Alberta's Library and Information Studies Department. Reading now demands an almost instantaneous response, whether through commenting on a blog or writing a review on Amazon. The Internet has shortened the feedback loop on writing and has made readers more active participants, says Matt Kirschenbaum, an assistant professor of English at the University of Maryland. 'Reading is more intimately associated with writing,' he says."
There's also a great sidebar in which some famous writers of all stripes -- from Ray Bradbury to Lemony Snicket, Stan Lee to Suzanne Somers -- talk about what books mean to them.