A sort of celebration of Underland Press: Brian Evenson (reading from his novel Last Days) and Jemiah Jefferson (reading from her wovel, "Firstworld") at Powell's.
Someone from the audience gets up to ask about Jefferson's wovel while Evenson is at the microphone: substance of question-- "What about the book? Is it dead (because replaced by "the internet")?" A fair question, despite its Luddite/apocalyptic phrasing. Are there now "better" ways of communicating imaginatively through the written word? I am fairly certain the guy meant it in a derogatory/antagonistic way, but everyone was willing to play along for the moment.
Victoria Blake (publisher of Underland) answered the question-- "We don't know/can't know, but are excited to find out." And willing to help it along; Underland puts its money where its website is.
But then this question has been outstanding for quite some time, at least as long as the possibility/capability existed. See the ruins of Storyspace Cluster, for that matter, all of cyberartsweb, even the larger project, landow. I was hoping to hear something more substantive from Evenson on the subject-- after all, the Cluster was started at Brown-- but it was not forthcoming. Probably not the best venue for it; I might have been the only person--aside (maybe) from the guy who asked the question--who wanted to hear more.
Here's more from Evenson at fc2blog, about the business side (and lack thereof) of this question.
Here's an article from Robert Coover, lured to Brown (partly) by the Cluster, from 1992: "The End of Books" on the artistic side of the question.