Forum Edita has become an essential thermometer in the book sector. The eighth edition of the meeting directed by Javier Aparicio Maydeu, Patrici Tixis and Sergio Vila-Sanjuán at the UPF-BSM in Barcelona has certified the good news. The sector has not stopped improving in the last three years. It was shown, with data and statistics, by Ignacio López (head of market intelligence of GfK): more and more paper books are being published and sold. The existential contract with reading that we renewed during the pandemic is still in force, despite the fact that the confinements and the masks have been apparently forgotten. Perhaps because they are still there, like repressed ghosts, we look to the printed pages for the comfort and sense of order that they transmitted to us when everything was chaos and collapse.
As the writer and journalist Toni Iturbe, who presents the conference with grace and intelligence, said yesterday, these last three editions have had as many protagonists: Amazon, TikTok and, now, artificial intelligence. The ChatGPT is being the viral phenomenon of the year. Deep learning neural networks are being integrated into the fabrics of the creative industries at all levels, from the writer’s, designer’s or editor’s computer to enterprise macroservers. They are, at the same time, an incentive and a problem, a challenge and so many dilemmas. Only reflection and taking a stand, individual and collective, can lead to satisfactory solutions for cultural workers. The Hollywood actors’ and writers’ strike, which has been in flames for three months now, suggests that the time has come to to reset unionism. To defend us from both the bosses and their machines.
Digital platforms continue to be satellites of a center called paper books, which are sold in bookstores.
The fact that the company founded by Jeff Bezos, the Chinese social network and now GPT have briefly starred in Forum Edita confirms that these are less powerful agents than the traditional ones. In many of the presentations and conversations it was recalled that bookstores are still the main channel that connects books with readers. Amazon, Wattpad, Storytel and many other platforms, despite their strength and importance, continue to be satellites of a center called the paper book.
The world of information is already almost exclusively digital. We access it through the innumerable screens that surround us, surround us, envelop us. The world of knowledge, on the other hand, continues to throb and offers itself above all in print. We enter it through the school, the libraries and the bookstores. They move us to the mental vibration of study and knowledge, a less dopamine pleasure but equally pleasant. Entertainment is hybrid. We are classic and viral, tightrope walkers looking for balance with two nets under our feet. One is solid, the other virtual. And the borders, of course, are not clear.