Panelists to discuss books in increasingly digital world

A panel that includes the editorial director of Simon & Schuster will discuss the contemporary relevance of books at a time when digital media has become the norm.

The panel will present “The Staying Power of Books” at 6 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Jamestown Arts Center, 18 Valley St. The panelists are Tim O’Connell from Simon & Schuster, Curiosity & Co. owner Liz Newton and Kate Lentz, executive director of the Rhode Island Center for the Book. The presentation complements the current exhibition, “Book as Muse: Language & Image,” which features a collection of artwork inspired by literature and books as material objects.

In a rapidly evolving world where technological advancements alter the way in which the public consumes information, the relevance of books, and their impact on society, have come into focus, according to Maureen Coleman, executive director of the nonprofit organization.

“The digital age has radically changed how we consume information,” she said. “Yet books retain relevance as sources of respite, as magnets for controversy, as art, and as historical record.”

The panelists will explore the power of books to inspire discovery and imagination. Conversely, they will discuss how books have become the subject of controversy. As experts in the publishing industry, O’Connell, Newton and Lentz will talk about the challenges, such as Amazon and artificial intelligence, and the successes, such as audio books and independent bookstores.

Guests, along with listening to the discussion, will be able to view the gallery. Artists displayed in “Book As Muse,” through the fusion of language and visual imagery, express their interpretations of literary works and explore the significance of books as unique art forms.

The 10 artists who explore the convergence of text and image are Jamestown residents Nick Benson and Joan Hall, Lesley Dill, Karin Gielen, Andy Li, Rupert Nesbitt, Toby Sisson, Buzz Spector, Coral Woodbury and Jo Yarrington. The exhibition was curated by Jeff Foye and Danielle Ogden.

“Today’s fast-paced digital age has radically altered the way we take in information,” Ogden said. “Articles are modified into tweets, emojis are substitutions for opinions and the most complicated socio-political commentary is distilled to a meme. While technology advances and pulls us away from our basic ability to communicate, this exhibition aims to deepen our appreciation for both visual art and the written word’s powerful ability to communicate.”