Does anyone else fear for books?
I do. But I’m still deciding if it’s an irrational fear – like the one I have that chicken’s never cooked properly. Or lego. Lego’s freaky.
But no, really – I fear for books. I don’t think many folk are reading them.
Print journalism (a big chunk of the industry I want to get into) is already set up with a sketchy, at best, future – and now the things I studied for four years at Uni could be on the way out too.
I’m not talking about fearing for fiction, non-fiction or writing in general. That will all continue to exist, but will do so online, on your smartphone or on, as they say, your ‘tablet device’. I’m worried about the physical object: the book. With pages, and binding, and printed ink. All that stuff.
I’ve tried downloading a book – sorry, ibook – on my phone. And it’s horrendous. You can’t turn pages. There are about ten words on each electronic screen, and it needs battery life to read it. And it hurts your eyes after a while. Did I mention its horrendous?
Yes, people have kindles and whatever else, but I don’t see how they are the answer. You still can’t bend and twist a kindle into shape. It doesn’t feel the same as settling down with a good, paper book. And it’s a long way off from ever getting there.
Then there’s the issue of storage. ‘Hurrah!’ folk shout, ‘no more books taking up all my space’ – but what the hell’s the point in reading if you don’t, at the same time, have a mightily impressive library to show off to people. All you paper book-ists do it, don’t deny it.
It’s an impossibility of the laws of the universe for me to leave a book shop without buying at least a couple of things to read, which may mean I’m biased.
And I’m no technophobe – I love everything I can do on my phone, I’m envious to an astonishing degree of friends that have iPads, and I have this blog, for goodness sake.
But a book is a book is a book. Or something like that, as someone somewhere once said. It has paper, and pages, can be written on, stuffed at the bottom of a bag and doesn’t need plugged in at night.
That’s how I want it to say. I hope others do too. I might even start a campaign.*
Now go and read something not on a screen.
But do come back, and all that.
*Let’s be honest, I won’t – because I have no time to do such a thing. But it sounded impressive, right there. But maybe someone could? Go ooooooon. You know you want to.