The book has a future! The White Rose debate

Posted on 12 October 2015

On Thursday 8th October over 500 members of the public and the White Rose Universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield, packed the Great Hall at the University of Leeds to hear leading academics and public figures debate 'The Future of the Book'.

Photo: University of Leeds

The debate, funded by the White Rose Consortium, was chaired by Lord Melvyn Bragg and included contributions by James Daunt (CEO of Waterstones), Dr Bridgette Wessels (Sheffield) a leading expert in the sociology of digital communication in the public sphere, Professor Brian Cummings (York), distinguished historian of the book, whose 2012 Clarendon lectures were on 'bibliophobia', Dr James Mussel (Leeds), Victorian literature expert and Director of the Leeds Centre for the Comparative History of Print, and Dr Stella Butler, University Librarian of Leeds who recently served as Chair of the Board of Research Libraries UK. 
 

Dr James Mussel, Professor Brian Cummings and Lord Melvyn Bragg. Photo by University of Leeds

 
Following short contributions, discussion opened up between members of the panel and was then opened to the floor. The discussion reflected on the impact of new technologies on books from printing to the digital age, explored the changing ways in which readers are combining e-readers with conventional forms such s the codex, and acknowledged the commercial challenges faced both by booksellers and libraries in the 21st century. The debate ended with a highly engaged audience reflecting on their own relationships with books and libraries, and the evening ended with a very positive conclusion that the book, in all its manifestations, has an exciting future. 
 
The debate was live streamed by First Sight Media and students from the White Rose College and you can watch it here:   
 http://wrocah.ac.uk/future-of-the-book-debate-livestream/
 
The Future of the Book organisers, Professor Greg Radick (Leeds), Professor Cathy Shrank (Sheffield) and Dr Kate Giles (York) hope to continue to build on the success of the debate with future events and initiatives. Watch this space for more information:http://www.whiterose.ac.uk/projects/debating-the-book-past-present-and-future/