Philologist Sara Florian about E-books: “A natural progression in the evolutionary path of literature”

POSTED: 06/4/12 1:44 PM
Dr. Florian pictured in the garden of the University of St. Martin on Saturday with her husband Eugene Ooi.

St. Maarten – Dr. Sara Florian’s E-book workshop at the book fair drew a limited audience that was treated to an enticing review of technology’s role in literature.
“E-books represent the natural progression in the evolutionary path of literature,” Florian said.
The 30-year-old Italian philologist graduated in 2010 from the faculty of foreign languages and literature at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. Her Ph. D. thesis was on contemporary Caribbean poetry. Her link to the Caribbean and to St. Maarten stems from her work on this thesis during parallel studies at the University of the West Indies. It included an interview with St. Maarten’s poet Lasana Sekou.
Afterwards, Florian completed a post-doctoral study at the Singapore Management University. She currently lives and works in Singapore with her husband Eugene Ooi, an officer in the city-state’s police force. Last year Florian published her autobiographical debut novel Luce / Light. The 200-page volume contains the text in Italian as well as in English.
Florian’s love for literature became apparent during the workshop where she took participants on a journey that started in 3,500 B.C. in Mesopotamia where cylinder seals were used as the first printing tolls known to man. In the third century the Chinese used woodblock printing. Then it took more than a thousand years before typographic incunabula’s were first produced in Europe. In its wake Johannes Gutenberg came up with the first printing press in 1439. In the eighteenth century lithography entered the market and these days we are familiar with inkjet printing and with three-dimensional printing.
Florian lives in the high-tech community of Singapore.
“Nine out of ten commuters are on their smartphones on their way to work,” she said, illustrating the point with a picture taken in the city’s subway system.
“People seem to be more intimate with technology than with each other these days.”
So how do E-books fit in with literature and how fast will this development go?
“In 2010 180 million iBooks were downloaded from the Apple store. Last year 314 million E-books were downloaded,” Florian said.
Florian said that E-books will change people’s reading habits and that the technology will also have an environmental impact: they’ll save a lot of trees.”
E-books will also change the way libraries look like and function, they will affect the position of traditional publishers and they will enable a lot of new authors to publish their work without being at the mercy of vanity publishers, since web sites like Smashwords will allow them to produce their own E-books from their computer at home and bring their work to a global audience without any cost and without running the risk of ending up with a garage filled with copies of their own work.

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