Criticism & Features

NBCC Reads

Guest Post by Chelsey Philpot: NBCC at 35, A J-School Grad’s Lament

By Jane Ciabattari

NBCC member Chelsey Philpot sends us “A J-School Grad’s Lament” upon the 35th anniversary of the NBCC. She is editorial assistant at the HORN BOOK GUIDE. a PUBLISHERS WEEKLY reviewer and a self-confessed bibliophile.

I recently graduated from journalism school and I feel like I have just arrived at a party only to open the door and find everybody has already left.  I went to graduate school because I love books and print. I like black ink on my finger tips and the challenge of making the Sunday paper somehow fit back together.  But now that I have my diploma under a pile of galleys on my desk I’m being told by friends, family, and the media that the death of the book is both imminent and inevitable.  Apparently, my dead-tree degree means as little as the paper catalogs I recycle without even opening.

The party was hopping before I got there, but it seems all the cool kids went to find an even better time.

My mentors and professors seem just as baffled as I am: What do we do with this brave new world where Prospero’s entire library could fit on an electronic tablet? Having slogged through multimedia journalism classes in graduate school perhaps I should be leading the new format parade, but instead I am embracing technology as begrudgingly as any curmudgeonly veteran critic.

I know I need to reconcile my love for books (coffee-stained, water-logged, musty, smelly old books) and the possibilities of Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and electronic readers.  However, if I am dragging my feet a little as we lovers of books try to work-out how criticism will survive and thrive, it’s only because sometimes I feel like I was born fifty years too late.