While computer programs like Pro Tools and inexpensive home setups have altered (and to a large extent, diminished) the role of the traditional studio, Milner says that those he spoke to for the book are cautiously optimistic about the future of recording.

“Granted, there are a lot of people who feel music is sounding really bad right now, between the mastering, the use of Auto-Tune, and the way everyone listens to compressed, poor-quality sound files on their iPods,” Milner admits. “It’s not that they’re Luddites, but they feel like, ‘Why bother? What’s the point of laboring over a record if it’s going to go through all these processes that negate all the things we work to achieve?’ Still, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll probably be talking about and debating these same kinds of issues for a long time to come.”

We Can’t Put Down …

Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa by Mark Seal | (Random House, $26)

IN JANUARY 2006, wildlife activist and Oscar-nominated documentarian Joan Root was shot and killed at her home on Kenya’s Lake Naivasha, where for years she had worked to protect the land and the animals that inhabited it. Police believe it was a robbery gone bad, but others suspect she was murdered by people who disagreed with her conservation efforts. Still unsolved, Root’s murder has garnered worldwide attention, even inspiring a film, with Julia Roberts rumored to play Root. Talented author Mark Seal (whose work has been featured a great deal in American Way) honors Root’s extraordinary life and investigates her mysterious death in Wildflower, a beautiful and gripping tale about a life cut tragically short.