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Monday, April 18, 2011

Print Is Dead


That’s what Egon Spengler said to receptionist Janine Melnitz in Ghostbusters. This was 1984. It was almost a decade away from the age of the Internet. Yet, what Egon says is probably true. Print is dead.

It’s a bit sad, if you ask me. On one hand, I grew up despising the chore of reading. I read as little as possible. Whenever we would have to go to the library in grade school and check out a book, I would always check out a book about drawing or a Peanuts comic strip collection or I would continually check out the same juvenile books that involved anthropomorphic fruit or vegetables. I never read them. I was just going through the motions. Eventually, I was called on the carpet by the librarian, who asked why I continually checked out the same book. ‘What an invasion of privacy,’ I thought. From then on, I would pick random books to check out and then leave them in my book bag to be returned later. By junior high, I was dead set against reading and even made up a few book reports on what I thought the book should have been like. By high school, I had forgone reading unless I had to.

Sorry, but I was always a more visually inclined person. It’s kind of contradicting to my nature of wanting to be a writer, or even an actor, when I grew up. There’s plenty of reading to be done by actors and there is even more so to be done by writers, I imagine.

I ended up growing out of that aversion to reading and have done more reading in my 30s than I probably did during my school years. Still, I have to be in the mood to read. Meanwhile, my wife clips along through books, mostly paranormal romantic fiction, at a quickened pace.

The one thing I do remember fondly, as a child, was that there was always a morning paper in our house. Actually, there were at least two; The Daily Courier and The Herald Standard. My parents would sit at breakfast and read the paper every day. Hell, for seven years, I delivered The Daily Courier. When I started my first real job out of college, I read the paper, too. Granted, it was the USA Today that was left outside the doors of the guests at the hotel, where I worked. Mostly, I read the Life section and a few of the front page stories, ending my morning bagel on the Crossword Puzzle, which I always did in pen.

However, nowadays, I don’t read the paper. I don’t even get a paper at my house. Yet, I realized that every morning I perform the same ritual as my parents did all those years ago. I sit, with my breakfast and read. I drink my coffee while I scan through stories and other news items. It just so happens that those bits of information are just that, bits, or perhaps bytes would be a more relevant term. I read blogs and my emails and news stories while I wait for everything else to load on my computer. I dig through shirt designs on other sites and check out my Facebook news feed. I look at analytics for my sites and jot down a few ideas for stuff to work on when I get home. I probably read the equivalent amount of words online that most people would read in a newspaper.

Print IS Dead. It’s all electronic and accessible through the Internet in today’s reality. Newspapers are going belly up or hiding their articles behind pay walls. Everyone is downloading eBooks for their Nooks and Kindles and Tablet PCS. The only benefit to this is that the need to cut down trees to make paper will lessen. The downside to that is that printers and binders and other jobs associated with the construction of printed material will shrink from existence.

The demise of Print is still sad to me, though. For someone who is visually stimulated, I also like to have something tangible in my hands. A book has a texture that adds to its value. When you pick up a book, the weight felt in your hands is history. The sound of a page sliding across one and flipping over to the other side of the book adds resonance to the material. The feeling of the pages, that heavy weighted stock, tingles in your hands. There is nothing more immersive than reading a book that is three dimensional and in your hands. Scrolling a mouse or sliding your finger across a screen will never give you the same experience that holding a book will. In the future we may lose the need to use our limbs, instead relying on audio or mind

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