Issue #31, 2007

Imagining the Future

By 2025, “devouring a book” may be more than a figure of speech. Books will be consumable products—in digestible pill forms, as injections and even as beef jerky, according to predictions in Imagining the Future. This issue brings together voices from across the publishing spectrum—from novelists and journalists to librarians and editors—all of them speculating about the ways literature and the business of writing will change in the coming decades. From the outlandish to the pragmatic, the writers find common ground as they marvel at the way technology has ushered in a new era of communication.

In “Best of Times, Worst of Times,” essayist and memoirist Phillip Lopate conjures up versions of books that will meet the needs of humanity in 2025: the floating book (“in response to the rising water-levels at our coasts”), the impulse book, the book-shot (“devised for cultivated diabetics who requested a literary dose with their daily injections”).

Booklist editor Donna Seaman, in “Netting the Future,” contemplates our evolving relationship with the Internet and observes: “As we write, read, surf, scroll, talk, watch, sample and shop, the manufacture of our marvelously smart and companionable machines—seemingly clean objects—involves the use of toxic chemicals that are now found all around the world embedded in soil, ice, water, air and the bodies of living humans and animals. ... The virtual world has an all too tangible impact on the living earth.”

Amy Stolls, literature program officer for the National Endowment for the Arts, calculates that according to recent trends, 87% of the population will claim “writer” as an occupation by 2025. Furthermore, she writes, “the universal library of all human verbiage [will show] 1.4 million genres, with 230,000 subcategories labeled ‘For Dummies.’”

Imagining the Future includes seventeen intriguing essays from across the literary landscape and six elegant and thought-provoking illustrations created by Little Kelpie, a creative studio in Pittsburgh. A "Readings" section includes four longer essays plus a profile of Gay Talese.

Table of Contents

FROM THE EDITOR: Imagining the Future Lee Gutkind ... read more
Imagine Muharem Bazdulj
YouTube Can Be a Published Author Dinty W. Moore
The Death of the Book David Henry Sterry
The Future in the Past George Gibson
The Fetishistic Book Robert J. Hughes
The Book Business: Looking Ahead C. Michael Curtis
Introducing...Trump Jerky Books! Robin Hemley
Books Without Borders Gloriana St. Clair
The Library as Storyplace Rebecca T. Miller ... read more
Best of Times, Worst of Times Phillip Lopate
The Phone Immanuel Mifsud
Netting the Future Donna Seaman
What We've Got Here is a Failure to ... Um ... Amy Stolls
Writing Isn't the Future of Writing Astro Teller
The Writers in the Silos Heidi Julavits
What Future of Newspapers? Ira Berkow
Literature Can Save the World ... If We Let It! Marita Golden
Luke and Leonardo Denise Shekerjian
Diagnosis/Cure Dennis Covington
What the Living Do Judith Barrington
Shoot the Messenger: Gay Talese at 75 Barbara Lounsberry

Contributors

David Applefield

David Applefield is an American writer and media specialist living in Paris. He is the author of two novels, two guidebooks to Paris, and... read more

Judith Barrington

Judith Barrington’s Lifesaving: A Memoir was the winner of the 2001 Lambda Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand... read more

Muharem Bazdulj

Muharem Bazdulj was born in 1977 in Travnik (Bosnia). His award winning collection of short stories, "The Second Book," was published by... read more

Ira Berkow

Ira Berkow has been a sports columnist and feature writer for The New York Times for 26 years. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for his feature... read more

Dennis Covington

Dennis Covington is the author of two novels and three nonfiction books, including "Salvation on Sand Mountain," which was a finalist for... read more

C. Michael Curtis

C. Michael Curtis edits fiction for The Atlantic Monthly, for whom he has worked since 1963. He is the editor of six anthologies of short... read more

George Gibson

George Gibson is the publisher of Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury USA. His authors include Dava Sobel, Mark Kurlansky, David... read more

Marita Golden

Marita Golden is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including, most recently, the novel "After," which received the Black... read more

Robin Hemley

Robin Hemley is the author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction and the winner of a number of awards including two Pushcart Prizes, the... read more

Robert J. Hughes

Robert J. Hughes, an arts reporter for The Wall Street Journal, is also the author of "Late and Soon," a novel. read more

Heidi Julavits

Heidi Julavits is the author of three novels, most recently The Uses of Enchantment. She is a founding co-editor of The Believer. read more

Phillip Lopate

Phillip Lopate's nonfiction books include essay collections (Bachelorhood, Against Joie de Vivre, Portrait of My Body); film criticism... read more

Barbara Lounsberry

Barbara Lounsberry's books include "The Art of Fact: Contemporary Artists of Nonfiction" (1992), "The Writer in You" (1994), "Writing... read more

Immanuel Mifsud

Immanuel Mifsud wrote several books of short stories in Maltese. "Happy Weekend" is a collection of stories translated into English. He... read more

Rebecca T. Miller

Rebecca T. Miller is Executive Editor of Library Journal. read more

Dinty W. Moore

Dinty W. Moore has been a member of Creative Nonfiction's Editorial Board since Issue 27. He is the author of Dear Mister Essay... read more

Donna Seaman

A senior editor for Booklist, Donna Seaman is a recipient of the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. She created the anthology In Our... read more

Denise Shekerjian

Denise Shekerjian is the author of two works of nonfiction, including "Uncommon Genius," a narrative look at the creative process based... read more

Gloriana St. Clair

Gloriana St. Clair is the Dean of University of Libraries at Carnegie Mellon University. She has a master's in library science from the... read more

David Henry Sterry

David Henry Sterry is the author of four published books, with six more under contract. His best-selling memoir, "Chicken," is being made... read more

Amy Stolls

Amy Stolls is Literature Program Officer for the National Endowment for the Arts, where she manages the grants program in literature. Since... read more

Astro Teller

Astro Teller's first novel, "Exegesis," was published by Vintage Books in August 1997 and was subsequently translated and published into... read more