Are we writing too many books?

I am writing this partly in reply to a post on Publishing Perspectives which asks: Are there too many books? by Tanja Tuma.

Now, this question can at the most be rhetorical. Because the answer cannot be: Yes, and can everybody just stop writing and publishing them for a minute.

With both a growing worldwide population, a diminishing of illiteracy, and a progressively easier system of publishing books it is unlikely that there can be less books in the world. If only one writer keeps writing, finishing one book per decade, there will be more books in the world. But that one book will not make it one too many because there are too many already.

Too many for one singular person to read.

Too many for every single author to make a living wage from their writing.

Too many to even realistically comprehend.

In commenting on this post Professor Paul Richardson agree that the question is rhetorical. Then he quotes Ecclesiastes 12:12 ‘of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh’. And then he comes to the conclusion that here, amongst other places, the Bible gets it wrong.

Or does it?

Of making many books there is no end?

Isn’t that exactly the point? Ecclesiastes was not the last book ever written. Books have been written since. Books are currently being written. There is no foreseeable end of books being written at all.

Ecclesiastes 12:12 says there is no end to the writing of books. I can’t see the end. Can you?

Unless Professor Paul Richardson meant that the second half of the quoted verse is wrong. But that is a topic for another post.

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