Is print dying? Or our desire to remember the good things in life?

One of the copywriters I follow on that there Twitter thingy pointed me in the direction of @Craigmod and his post about the iPad replacing paperbacks and just for good measure, "good riddance" to 'em.

It's first thing, Friday morning and I now feel slightly queazy.

In @Craigmod's words:

"We’re losing the throwaway paperback.
The airport paperback.
The beachside paperback.

We’re losing the dredge of the publishing world: disposable books. The book printed without consideration of form or sustainability or longevity. The book produced to be consumed once and then tossed. The book you bin when you’re moving and you need to clean out the closet.

These are the first books to go. And I say it again, good riddance."

Sure about that?

If we were losing all that, which I don't think for a minute we will be, I know exactly what I'd be losing:

A rough 'n' ready slab of ideas, thoughts, sillyness, profundity or outlandish imagination that I can pass onto and share with my little girl; an object of inspiration I can later recommend to my boys; a piece of culture I can hand over, whether I get the plot or not, and I can argue the toss over with The Missus over a glass or three of rioja.

I'd be losing a friend I can flick through, fan and ruffle the pages comfortingly like a handful of worry beads as I wait nervously for the plane to carry me off helplessly into the air.

I'd be losing a companion that readily accepts my marginalised pencilled-in little ramblings - our shared secrets together.

I'd be losing a novel that didn't sap me too much on a blazing beach; a book that wouldn't baulk at the blistering temperature or complain about the sand on its spine... or demand a screen for the glare... or insist on the highest levels of security whenever I fancy a dip in the sea.

I'd be losing a curled-up tome I can curl up with when I'm sleepless at 4am; a best friend I can nestle gently onto my other best friend's shoulder as she sleeps on, oblivious.

Books don't have to be disposable. Books can be recycled over and over, take on a life of their own and breathe life into the next few days, months or years for a complete stranger with wonderful schemes such as bookcrossing.

And more importantly, and increasingly so these days, books CAN be printed responsibly and sustainably.

After all, a well-thumbed, battered, bruised and loved book can often be the only sustenance we need.

5 comments:

RowWrites said...

I have never thrown away a book in my life.

Given away, perhaps, to friends I think would particularly enjoy them; to second-hand bookshops, in the hope they'll be rediscovered; to stranger-friends I've met on holiday and exchanged easy-reads with.

Thoughtlessly chucking away something whose value goes way beyond how much I paid for it would never occur to me.

Unless I really, REALLY thought it was offensively shit.

Crabbit Copywriter said...

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Imagine a world without libraries. Doesn't really bear thinking about, does it? The destruction of Alexandria is still poignant today. Imagine if all the knowledge of the world was held on a great big hard drive and someone accidentally hit delete. Not quite so romantic, eh?

Have you ever read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury? If not, I'd highly recommend it. It addresses the death of the book so well.

domconlon said...

Hey Smartarse. It happened to Radio when TV came along, it happened to TV when YouTube came along. It happened to meeting up over a pint when Facebook came along and it will happen to paperbacks when the iPad is launched.

Who has heard of Radio, TV and pubs these days?

It's common sense. We ditch old technologies the instant something new comes along.

Larner said...

Hey Rowena,

I can't bear to throw a book away myself. Much rather hoard it or pass it on. Surely books were made to be recycled in every sense.

Claire,

Yup, read it. Very scary and I think in the grand scheme of things, that kind of censorship is always a knife edge away which is why freedom of speech must always be over-protected.

Dom,

Smartarse my... oh you get the picture.

Many thanks for your comments - all appreciated - even Dominic's!

Ali Turner said...

When I was younger I used to have real issues with libraries. The idea of handing a book back after reading it really disturbed me. Even now, a song will come on the radio and I'll look up at the bookshelf to search out the title it remind me of - if it's not there, I'm genuinely disappointed.

I like the memento of books, the coffee stains and the loose pages. They're not just something you read, they're something you keep - like the your first Valentines Card or the shirt everyone signed when you left school.

You can't get that on an iPad. And even thought I see the benefit, the paper saved and the convenience - I can't actually imagine myself throwing an iPad in my bag every day, I'd break it in the first week. A neat bundle of paper though - that'd survive in my bag for a good long while and it'll survive on my bookcase too. Even when everyone else is tapping away at a screen, I'll be the person turning a crisp paper page!