Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
is a novel whose own history uncannily echoes its themes. The original genesis of Sloan's debut novel was as a self-published ebook short story, which then, following its overwhelming success in that form, found its way to a print publisher and a new life as a traditionally published, full-length novel. Likewise, the plot and themes of Sloan's novel continuously - and vigorously - cross the boundaries between old and new technologies, between traditional knowledge and new ways of thinking, between a possibly irrelevant past and a still undefined future.
The central figure in this drama is Clay Jannon, a twenty-something graphic designer who has been the victim, on more than one occasion, of the Great Recession. To make ends meet, he finds himself working as the night clerk at the eponymous bookstore, which is really two bookstores in...
Beyond the Book
I don't think it's giving too much away to note that the process of book scanning plays a significant role in the plot of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
. At the center of the novel's plot is the high-speed book scanning process used by Google in its Books project.
Setting aside any of the controversy around Google Books and potential copyright infringement (a recent law suit determined that Google's book scanning is fair use), anyone could agree that Google's project is both ambitious and impressive.
Originally launched in 2002 and inspired by databases of public domain works...