BOOKS: The printed book will conquer all

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The Independent Culture
THE BOOK will fend off challenges from new technology and remain at the core of our culture in the new millennium, Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, will tell the Dartington Literature Festival this week.

In a speech which the many assembled writers should find reassuring, the minister will reaffirm the role of the book in the face of the emergence of new electronic media.

Last week he stressed that while public libraries should put resources into information technology, they had to continue to support the central role of the book. Readers had the right to demand print in book form, said Mr Smith, who lists literature among his recreations in Who's Who.

His speech (at 3.15pm on Tuesday 13 July in the Great Hall), on the arts in the new millennium, is expected to include an announcement on an Arts Council initiative on literature.

Along with Chris Smith, a colourful cast of poets, novelists, journalists, politicians, scientists, actors, comedians, biographers and artists are assembling for the eighth Ways With Words Literature Festival. The Independent on Sunday is once again delighted to be supporting the Festival.

The programme of themed days is already proving to be popular. Today is Philosophy and Religion day, with two sessions from the controversialist A N Wilson. He discusses with Karen Armstrong whether God has a future, and later in the day he analyses the enigmatic figure of Jesus with Richard Ingrams. Ben Rogers will talk about the brilliant and controversial A J Ayer, and Henry Hardy discusses Isaiah Berlin.

IoS Travel Editor Jeremy Atiyah hosts a day of travel writing (Monday 12 July), including William Dalrymple talking about India, Tim Moore discussing his exploits in the footsteps of a Victorian Arctic explorer, and Nicholas Crane describing his walk along the line of longitude through the heart of England.

In our Science theme day (Saturday 17 July), the IoS's columnist Marek Kohn discusses his book The Evolved Mind. Patrick D Wall talks about his book Pain: The Science of Suffering, and Telegraph columnist James Le Fanu asks whether medicine has lost its way.

The day devoted to history (Sunday 18 July) features Rosalind Miles, who has ventured into fiction to tell the story of Guinevere, and Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger talking about life in The Year 1000.

Other writers appearing include Ronan Bennett, Barbara Trapido, actress Harriet Walter, Clare Short, Rachel Lichtenstein, John Bayley, Deborah Moggach, Jane Gardam, Matthew Collings and Bernice Rubens.

You can buy a day ticket, which gives free entry to all theme day events, or buy tickets to individual talks. There are also flexible weekend and midweek packages, discounted for readers. See details, below.