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Reports of the death of reading are greatly exaggeratedDo you worry that you've lost patience for anything longer than a tweet? If so, you're not alone. Digital-age pundits warn that as our appetite for books dwindles, so too do the virtues in which printed, bound objects once trained us: the willpower to focus on a sustained argument, the curiosity to look beyond the day's news, the willingness to be alone. The shelves of the world's great libraries, though, tell a more complicated story. Examining the wear and tear on the books that they contain, English professor Leah Price finds scant evidence that a golden age of reading ever existed. From the dawn of mass literacy to the invention of the paperback, most readers already skimmed and multitasked. Print-era doctors even forbade the very same silent absorption now recommended as a cure for electronic addictions.

About the Author

Leah Price

Unpacking my Library: Writers and their Books is just out from Yale University Press; How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain is forthcoming from Princeton in spring 2012. Price is at work on a new book, The Book that Never Was: How Idealizing the Printed Past is Distorting Our Digital Future.

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