Philip Dodd goes to one of Britain's largest second hand bookshops and is joined by a panel of publishers, authors and an audience of readers for a public debate that tackles the vexed question: Is the book dead? As e-books outsell hardbacks for the first time is reading itself facing a future that is empowered or impoverished?
The venue is Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland, which famously occupies a former railway station. Onstage with Philip will be guests writer David Almond, author of the prize-winning novel Skellig, Chris Meade of the Institute for the Future of the Book, thriller writer Louise Welsh and the historian Sheila Hingley.
Just recently, yet another device to read books electronically has just been launched - experts predict it will make this a mainstream activity. So Philip asks: why we are once again hearing concerns that innovations like e-readers and the iPad impede our imagination, shorten our attention span and make us intellectually shallow. Others argue that they do precisely the opposite. Philip, his guests and the audience of local readers argue over what this all means for the old-fashioned book and the publishing industry behind it.
Is the Book Dead? is the first of three audience events recorded in the North-East in the run-up to BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking festival of ideas at The Sage Gateshead from November 5th - 7th. Other debates will be held in Sunderland and Durham.
Producer: Kirsty Pope.