Renowned historian Robert Darnton - a pioneering scholar in the history of the book, and a leading voice in the debate about the digital future of books and knowledge - distills his experience and insight. The era of the book as the unrivalled source and vehicle for knowledge is coming to an end. Digitization makes the physical properties of books disposable; e-book readers and mobile phones render them portable and accessible almost everywhere. Google and Amazon could command near monopolistic positions as sellers and dispensers of digital information relatively unfiltered by the traditional caucus of book experts: editors, proof-readers, expert retailers. This is the moment when books could both spring free of the limitations of production processes that have constrained them for 500 years and could also shatter into smithereens, shards of scattered knowledge no longer bound and made meaningful by context, cover and care. Robert Darnton is a unique authority, whose work on this subject for more than a decade has helped invent the discipline of the History of the Book. An essayist, expert witness and commentator, he is a leading voice on the significance of the changes that are taking place in the world of books and digitization. As the Librarian at Harvard (the world's most prestigious book collection), he is intellectually responsible for the status and functioning of the world's largest university library. He is the author of many books, monographs and contributions to public knowledge. This timely book assembles the writings Darnton has done on this subject for a range of publications including the "New York Review of Books", where he is a regular contributor. It is written by an award-winning historian widely acknowledged as the leading academic expert on the subject: Darnton is a renowned scholar of European history and a former director of the American History Association specifically renowned as a pioneer in the field of the history of the book. It is a significant and timely book for book people: An important and optimistic book about books and their evolution, published at a moment of significant turmoil, excitement and anxiety for anyone who writes, publishes, studies, or simply reads them. International book launch via author's keynote address at Frankfurt Book Fair: The choice of Darnton to keynote the premier international publishing convention reflects both the topical urgency of the subject to people who care about books, and his stature as the expert's expert. The keynote address will be included in the book itself. Published at a key publicity moment for digital issues: The recommencement in October 2009 of debate over the proposed settlement between Google and publishers on digital book issues offers significant opportunities for media and author appearances.