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    Fry says bookshops could go the way of blacksmiths

16.09.10 | Philip Jones

Stephen Fry has predicted that there will be a "hell of a culling" of traditional bookstores as a result of the increasing adoption of iPads and ebooks, but added that some will survive. Fry was responding to a question posed to him during a Twitter-based interview conducted on high street bookseller Waterstone's Twitter feed.

Fry, a noted technophile, was asked by Sarah Taylor (location Strawberry Hill, Twickenham) what he thought "about new technology such as iPads/E-Books potentially destroying bookstores?" Fry responded on Waterstone's own Twitter account: "I think there'll be a hell of a culling, as there was of farriers and blacksmiths when the car came in. But not total".

Fry took over the Waterstone's Twitter for an hour yesterday as part of the  promotion for his new book The Fry Chronicles (Michael Joseph), expected to be one of the biggest titles for bookshops this Christmas. Fry's publicity has been particularly digitally minded with the launch of an app, enhanced iBook, and a live event broadcast in about 60 cinemas.

During his hour on the Waterstone's Twitter, he was also asked, "who would you like to be trapped in a lift for an hour with?", to which he responded: "Martina Navratilova, Lady Gaga, Jools Holland or Tom Daley would all be fine". And, "excluding oscar wilde which author alive or dead would you like to have dinner with?" To which Fry Twittered: "Chekhov. Such a civilised, kindly, rational man. Greatest short story writer ever IMHO".


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I know that Mr Fry loves his

I know that Mr Fry loves his gadgets, as do I (my own, not his), but I don't agree that it's ipads and ebooks and the such like that will lead to bookstores closing, it's still Internet shopping that will be the cause. Everyone buys books and music online now. It's the absence of choice in bricks-and-mortar stores that's the problem; every bookstore has the same small stock. You can buy pretty much anything online. Our horizons have been broadened.

The physical book will always be popular... you can't sniff an ebook, after all.

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Demise of bookstores...

Though I truly pray not, it does seem the way of the future. In North America the bookstore culture has suffered in recent years anyway with our obsession with big box stores. Starbucks doesn't seem to cut it.

Alas, you cannot sniff any books in those big stores either. Their modern and bright displays are stacked with chocolate and scented candles, no one wears patches on their wool sweaters and neither the beautiful old wood nor the books are musty. Sigh...

It is hard to imagine giving up the tactile pleasure of the print book. Then again, it was hard for our great and grandparents to imagine a time when they would use the newfangled plastic thing called a telephone over the adventure of getting dressed up, hitching up the horses, and visiting in the parlour of their friends.

I for one am putting my money on the reading devices... and my recently published novel.