10:04 says something about publishing in recent times (see The very edge of fiction), but it might also say something about changing attitudes to books.
One of the many threads in the book concerns Roberto, a boy whom the narrator takes to the Natural History Museum and encourages to write down stuff about dinosaurs. As a surprise for Roberto he has fifty copies of the resulting four-page book – entitled, in case we are in any doubt, To the Future – produced using a self-publishing website: “It did not feel like a vanity project, but like a real children’s book”.
Roberto is not very impressed.
“Will we do another book?” He sounded as though he hoped we wouldn’t.
“You haven’t even looked at this one,” I said, trying to sound light, and not disappointed. “This is the product of all our hard work. We sweated over every sentence.”
“Because I want to make a movie next,” Roberto said.
The narrator tries to bring the boy round, suggesting that “maybe we can make a book trailer”, but there is no meeting of minds.
“The room had that particular quality of silence that obtains when many loud bodies have recently left.”
Is this the end of the book, and perhaps the end of publishing as we know it?
Ben Lerner, 10:04, 2014