Literary excess today does not make for a past book golden age

Friday, 12 June, 2009

The rise of electronic, user generated, publishing has not necessarily led to an increase in poorly produced literature, writes Robert McCrum, who says the 1960s and 1970s, a period regarded by some as the golden age of book publishing, had no shortage of less than memorable writing.

The present age of literary excess does not wield a monopoly in the publication of bad books. There was plenty of rubbish published in the 1960s and 70s; perhaps not in quite such volume, but then there are more books published now than ever before. As I piled up a shoddy ziggurat of gaudy paperbacks (five shillings here, 50p there), wartime derring-do, James Bond rip-offs, and pop psychology, I was forced to conclude that every age creates its share of ephemera.

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