I love magazines, and I love books. That's pretty much a given if you so much as glance at this blog. And while I find the online ones fun and different, and while I find readers like the Kindle to be a convenient idea, the concept of print being replaced is enough to bring me to tears. Take one look around my room, and print is the overwhelming theme. The walls are completely lined with photographs torn out from the likes of Nylon, Elle, and Vogue. I have shelves and shelves of books, with magazines and stray novels scattered across the floor. Lula has its own cherished little section in my closet where the thick, glossy pages are safe from the possibility of spilled food or accidental crumpling. In short, I am obsessed with print.
I know there are plenty of people like me out there, but will we be enough to save print? In my opinion, that's really not the issue. Print-obsessed or no, I am increasingly convinced that the existence of print actually has a lot of things going for it. So let's talk about a few of them.
1. To me, this is the most important point. There's just something nice about being able to hold a publication in my hands. I like flipping the pages, being able to scribble hasty notes in the margins, or even clipping things out. I like the feel of smooth magazine paper and the different - but equally intoxicating - smells of books both old and new. I even like that the best-loved books are always the most worn out. There's something just so comforting and tangible about print. Also, as one of the editors at Boston Magazine pointed out the other day, what happens to bedtime stories if print goes away? It's not like the parent can say, "Okay, honey, go ahead and turn the page." There are no pages. Maybe the kid can click or scroll, but does that really have the same effect? A lot of parents don't like their children to touch expensive electronics, so there goes the idea of the child getting to hold the book too. And it will be a sad day when my future son or daughter can't run to the bookshelf and grab their favorite book for me to read. No, I don't think print could possibly decline to that extent. At least in the near future.
2. Print lends itself to being read on the toilet. It's just a fact. I'm not gonna bring my expensive Kindle into the bathroom, but a $6 paperback? Why not! Is that too much information to put out on the internet? Do I even care?
3. Sharing works better with print. You can't really lend your friend the magazine on your iPad or let them borrow that new book on your Kindle. They can buy it, but they can't really borrow it. I love sharing. It's easy on the pocket and definitely a bonding experience. Are we really willing to give that up?
4. Print has variety. I don't want to read from the same device every time. And I suspect others feel the same way. We're a world of short attention spans these days, what with the internet stimulating our brains every second. The last thing we need is a little tedium.
5. Experience shows that print isn't going away any time soon. We all have mp3 players now, but CDs are still around. Less popular, yes. Pushed to the background, yes. But they are very much present. If you're feeling iffy about this, take a look at your car. Does it have a CD player? I thought so.
Of course, there are a lot of pros to the end of print as well. The fact that we wouldn't have to make paper aka kill the environment, for example. Only - and I don't pretend to have done any research into this kind of thing - check out this quote from entrepreneur Jay Walker's TED talk:
"And what does a lump of coal have to do with the Internet? You see, it takes the energy in one lump of coal to move one megabyte of information across the net. So every time you download a file, each megabyte is a lump of coal."
Did you ever think about that?
Just saying there are multiple sides to every argument. And that print is here to stay.
What do you think about the end of print? Coming quickly, coming slowly, or not coming at all? How do you feel about it? Can you think of any more reasons why print is or isn't becoming obsolete?