Giving the annual Douglas Adams lecture recently, Neil Gaiman spoke at length about his memories of his friend and fellow author, revealing the details of a conversation “almost 30 years ago now”, when the two were discussing the idea of ebooks.
We were talking about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which was something which resembled an iPad, long before it appeared. And I said when something like that happens, it’s going to be the death of the book. Douglas said “No. Books are sharks.” I must have looked baffled because he looked very pleased with himself. And he carried on with his metaphor. “Books are sharks … because sharks have been around for a very long time. There were sharks before there were dinosaurs, and the reason sharks are still in the ocean is that nothing is better at being a shark than a shark.”
Adams told Gaiman: “‘Look at a book. A book is the right size to be a book. They’re solar-powered. If you drop them, they keep on being a book. You can find your place in microseconds. Books are really good at being books and no matter what happens books will survive.’ “And he was right”, said Gaiman.
I read this in The Guardian and firmly believe that Adams was right.I had forgotten that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was not simply the title of the book by Adams, but was also an object.