Nicholson Baker Biography

Nicholson Baker (born January 7, 1957) is a contemporary American writer of fiction and non-fiction. As a novelist, he often focuses on minute inspection of his characters' and narrators' stream of consciousness, and has written about poetry, literature, library systems, history, politics, time manipulation, youth and sex. His fiction generally de-emphasizes narrative in favor of careful description and characterization.

Nicholson Baker was born in 1957 in New York City, and spent much of his youth in the Rochester, New York, area. He studied briefly at the Eastman School of Music and received a B.A. in philosophy from Haverford College. He lives today with his wife and two children in South Berwick, Maine. He received a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2001 for his nonfiction book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper.

Baker has been a fervent critic of what he perceives as libraries' unnecessary destruction of paper-based media. He wrote several vehement articles in The New Yorker critical of the San Francisco Public Library for sending thousands of books to a landfill, the elimination of card catalogs, and the destruction of old books and newspapers in favor of microfilm. In 1997, Baker received the San Francisco–based James Madison Freedom of Information Award in recognition of these efforts.

In 1999, Baker established a non-profit corporation, the American Newspaper Repository, to rescue old newspapers from destruction by libraries. In 2001 he published Double Fold, in which he accuses certain librarians of lying about the decay of materials and being obsessed with technological fads, at the expense of both the public and historical preservation.

Baker describes himself as having "always had pacifist leanings."

In March 2008, Baker reviewed John Broughton's Wikipedia: The Missing Manual in the New York Review of Books. In the review, Baker described Wikipedia's beginnings, its culture, and his own editing activities under the username "Wageless". His article, How I fell in love with Wikipedia, was published in The Guardian newspaper in the UK on April 10, 2008.