It is currently almost impossible to get away from discussions of whether the ‘book’ will survive the digital revolution. Blogs, tweets and newspaper articles appear daily on the subject, many of them repetitive, most of them admitting that the future is impossible to predict. In the midst of all this twittering, the thoughts of Jean-Claude Carriere and Umberto Eco come as a breath of fresh air. You couldn’t imagine two people better placed to discuss the past, present and future of the book. Both of them avid book collectors with a deep understanding of history, they have also explored through their work, both written and visual, the many and varied ways in which ideas have been represented through the ages. This beautifully produced book, an object of desire in itself, is the transcription of a long conversation between the two men that ranges across a vast landscape of subjects, from what can be defined as the first book, to the idea of the library, the burning of books both accidental and deliberate, and what will happen to knowledge and memory when infinite amounts of information are available at the click of a mouse. En route there are delightful digressions into personal anecdotes about everything from Umberto Eco’s first computer to the book Jean-Claude Carriere is most sad to have sold. Readers will close this book feeling that they have had the privilege of eavesdropping on an intimate and highly enjoyable discussion between two great minds. And while, as Carriere says, the one certain thing about the future is that it is unpredictable, it is clear from this conversation that, in some form or other, the book will survive. After all, as Eco says: like the spoon, once invented, it cannot be bettered.
Jean-Claude Carriere & Umberto Eco