The publishing industry is constantly changing and evolving, with that said many things aren’t changing despite what we may be led to believe. A few days ago I came across an article on NPR’s website entitled, “Technology Of Books Has Changed, But Bookstores Are Hanging In There.” Personally, I could get lost in a bookstore for hours. Even if I don’t make a purchase, I find the whole environment and experience mesmerizing and comforting. To be able to hold a tangible item in your hands and flip through it, absorbing a vast amount of knowledge with each page is an experience you can’t find anywhere else. The concept of holding a piece of someone’s life work in your hands with the ability to carry it with you wherever you go is inspiring. Books are safe; they provide constancy in our crazy, chaotic world. They let us escape into our imagination, unplugged, whenever we need it the most. We can rely on them to always be there- no charger, no cable cord, no outlet needed.
It makes my heart smile to realize I am not the only one who feels this way. Many people in the NPR article talked to the significance of a print book and why the print industry is most certainly not “dead.” Technology always gets all the buzz because it’s new. Our society is driven to always want the best of the best, to have the newest cell phone, car, tablet, or computer. Whatever it is, once a newer version comes out, we all forget about the old. We forget why the ‘device’ was so great in the first place and that its relevancy is still as it always has been. Print books are very similar to products such as the ipod (why do I need one of these anymore when I can get all the music I want right from my cell phone?) and the older generation ipads (why wouldn’t I just buy the smaller, slimmer version with better display and faster processing?). The invention of reading tablets enabled us to carry as many books as we wanted around with us all day on one small device and even pay less for them. Tablets take up less room, are often lighter, and make us look “hip,” why wouldn’t we give in?
As mentioned in the article, there are many studies that suggest we absorb less material digitally. Some agree, some disagree, and some are mislead/brainwashed. I happen to be someone who wholeheartedly agrees with this. When I am reading something on any type of digital computer screen I feel so removed from it. I find I have a harder time connecting to it. It doesn’t feel real to me, it’s just a bunch of words thrown together to make a sentence. Its tangible quality leaves me wanting more, I feel empty. Whenever I am sent a manuscript or draft that I really need to read, I print it out and the whole experience instantly changes. I can put myself directly into its literary world, free of any digital influences or distractions that always find a way to pop up. I can hold each page as I read it, make marks and comments where I need to, and hold the lump sum of all the project’s pages in my two hands and feel accomplished. I feel like I actually did something with my time and all my work didn’t just sink into digital oblivion.
This is why I believe the print book will never die. The digital age always has us feeling like we should be doing five different things at once or getting our work done faster. We are scared to immerse ourselves fully into one thing anymore. Publishers are well aware of the print book’s staying power. They are dedicating more and more time to making cover art, cover material, and paper quality decisions. The art of reading a print book is one of the few things that has transcended throughout all of history. It’s a commonality that threads each time period and person together. We can’t let it die, we won’t let it die- making it impossible to kill. Write on.