1.17.2010

Read the Printed Word.



There's nothing like dusting snow off of the Sunday paper or gently cracking open your favorite100-year-old novel (mine's a first edition of Evelyn by Mrs. (Julie Greve) Ansel Oppenheim, actually.) The smell of newsprint or dust, inky fingers or vellum-covered illustrations, typos or deckled edges, all set my heart aflutter. Even though both my husband and I make our livings with computers as a primary medium, we read the paper together every Sunday. It's our ritual. For awhile, I read before bed every night for months, quickly going through over 30 books this year (and those were the only ones I could recall.) Three were read on my honeymoon alone. I'm a reader. It's what I do when I'm not working from behind my keyboard.

But then I hear about inventions like Barnes & Noble's Nook or Amazon's Kindle and how Oprah touts it her "new favorite thing in the world" and a part of me dies inside, whilst gagging a little. C'mon, people. Seriously? GO TO THE LIBRARY AND GET A BOOK. If you can read with your eyes, you don't need anything else. What is wrong with you? I think technology such as this employs that special kind of marketing...that kind which makes you think you need it because it's the latest & greatest (Hello, Apple eleventeeth generation thingamajig). I call that the Black Pantiliner Approach to marketing. Let me explain. A number of years ago, Carefree launched a new product...the black pantiliner! Oh how new and exciting! How nice when you want to match your feminine hygiene products to your black underpants. Isn't it so embarrassing when they...show? Wait. Just. A. Second. That is the dumbest idea I've ever heard. It's totally unnecessary and costs more than the average fem-product-on-the-way-to-the-landfill. But, just for a split second, even I thought I needed it. Black! Neat! And then I realized that I had nearly fallen into the gimme-gimme-needy-wanty, shiny new thing syndrome. Lucky for me, the worst thing that could happen in that scenario is that every woman on Earth would buy up black pantiliners and they would outsell white ones and both would end up in a landfill in the same manner. Okay. But what would happen if digital books outsold printed books? It already happened once. Blargh.

I guess the thing which really scares me is the idea that, one day, if I want to buy a book or read the news, my only option will be to turn on my computer and stare at a screen, that libraries will become museums for antiquated technology and everything I do for fun will involve electricity. Weird thought but am I way off base? Don't you ever get tired of technology? The immediacy of it all exhausts me, it really does. I can't begin to tell you how many phone conversations I've had with someone who clearly is on the computer, doing God knows what unimportant thing, yet they answer the phone to end up not paying attention at all? I would've been just as happy to have you ignore a text message or voice mail, thanks. But I digress...back to the point of this post.

So. Here it is. The point of this post is this. Read the printed word. Big huge enormous thanks to both cevd + eastsidebride for launching the Read the Printed Word initiative. Go. Pick out a button and slap that baby on your blog, facebook, whatever digital thing you have. Then, turn off the damn computer, Blackberry or iPhone and go read something with real pages. Your brain will thank you. Oh, and support your local libraries, too. Because they rock. Just because we're in the digital age doesn't mean we can't unplug when we want, but it will take keeping printed material alive to have the choice down the road. Books shouldn't be the payphones of the 21st century.

There are things
We live among ‘and to see them
Is to know ourselves’. (163)*

*New Collected Poems by George Oppen.  New Directions, 2002.


Read the Printed Word!

4 comments:

east side bride said...

all right!!

evie s. said...

Yes, I agree. My husband and I both are book collectors (antique and new) and I can't bear the thought of not having paper and ink.

Jaeve + Things said...

YES YES YES YES YES!

Mrs. B said...

What a beautiful book your photograph shows, a lovely book called Evelyn. How wonderful.

I would also suggest starting a book club in your neighborhood or church or civic group or what have you...........it encourages reading on a different level and gives us our much-needed social time together with friends (or friends we need to get to know better.)

I have been in one for over 12 years now and so wish I'd have done it sooner.

This was a very good blog, and appreciated coming from someone technical such as yourself, who I love to see love old books.

I agree they may just one day go away.

Imagine, also, if books were only available online, and the government gets ahold of online control of our reading how censored our reading material could become?

It is a subtle washing away of all our hard-fought liberties.....in the name of ease and convenience at this particular time.

We cannot ever forget the horror of burning of books in the 1940s. Tragic, yet true. Nothing good comes from censorship in any way, shape or form. One generation m ay use fire, another generation could potentially use technology, but the end result is still the same: censorship.

I, too definately support reading of real books!

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