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The following appeared as part of an article in the book section of a
“Currently more and more books are becoming available in electronic form —
either free-of-charge on the Internet or for a very low price-per-book on compact
disc *. Thus literary classics are likely to be read more widely than ever before.
People who couldn’t have purchased these works at bookstore prices will now be
able to read them for little or no money; similarly, people who find it inconvenient
to visit libraries and wait for books to be returned by other patrons will now have
access to whatever classic they choose from their home or work computers. This
increase in access to literary classics will radically affect the public taste in reading,
creating a far more sophisticated and learned reading audience than has ever
*A “compact disc” is a small portable disc capable of storing relatively large
amounts of data that can be read by a computer.
Discuss how well reasoned . . . etc.
In this article the author concludes that literary classics are likely to be read more widely than ever before. The author’s line of
reasoning is that the availability of books in electronic form and access of books via the Internet has removed the two major
impediments that prevented people from reading literary classics, namely price and convenient access. Since books can be accessed
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from home or work via computers at little or no cost, the author believes that significant changes in the society will occur. Specifically,
the author maintains that access to literary classics will affect the public’s taste in reading and will result in a more learned and
cultured reading audience. The author’s argument is unconvincing for several reasons.
First, the author assumes that price and convenient access are the primary reasons people fail to read literary classics. While this is a
tempting assumption, it is not obviously true. For example, other reasons, such as lack of interest in these books or awareness of them
on the part of the reading public could equally account for the failure to read them. Consequently, it may turn out that, contrary to the
author’s expectation, the number of people who read literary classics is unaffected by their increased availability and lower cost.
Second, while it may be the case that access to books at affordable prices has increased as a result of new technology, the author
provides no evidence for the assumption that access to literary classics at affordable prices has increased as well. On the face of it, this
assumption seems innocuous; however there may be reasons that prevent literary classics from being marketed in the fashion
described by the author. For example, the inability to secure the requisite permissions to reproduce these books in electronic form, or
the lack of commercial interest in marketing them via the Internet could undermine the author’s assumption.
In conclusion, this argument is not convincing. To strengthen the argument the author would have to provide evidence for the assumption
that price and accessibility are the main reasons people fail to read literary classics. Additionally, evidence would be required for the
assumption that access to literary classics will be increased.