It was hard not to get caught up in Christmas preparations last weekend in Seattle. The Thanksgiving Turkey is barely cold and then America embraces the retail gods on “Black Friday”, followed by Christmas Tree decorating. I happily joined in. Armed with a Barnes & Noble saving coupon and my Nook (US enabled so can’t download new items when I’m not in North America) I went on the book hunt.
It’s the behaviour around this that I want to talk about today. People who know me understand that I love to read. Consuming the written word is a fun activity for me. The arrival of eReaders and the mass embrace of them has made that all the easier to indulge (hampered only by the fact I now drive – the one serious downside of making my commute more individual and faster) but it has thrown up a strange dilemma. I like the convenience of the eReader but I like the permanence of a physical book. Or at least I do for certain books. It manifests itself most of all with political biography. These are usually weighty tomes so it makes sense to use the eReader but I want the book for my physical collection – and it makes spontaneous reference easier.
My work around at the moment is a double purchase – which does not seem quite fair. There must be demand for a discount code where you get the other medium at a reduced price once you have the other.
This all neatly brings me to Monday evening where, after a post flight nap, I enjoyed a talk on the future of the media by Richard Addis at my club, Morton’s (who have been embarking on a series of very welcome thought leadership evenings). Addis has enjoyed a storied career and he treated us to some observations about the immediate future (Leveson Inquiry) and into the next century.
It was his comments on the future of “print” that I found most interesting. He sees it as becoming a luxury – becoming a more tactile medium and expression of the written word. Almost going full circle to the days of monastic calligraphy (my interpretation). Digital provides the “quick fix” but for a more luxurious, lingering, thoughtful experience – it’s back to paper.
I thought immediately of my own book buying behaviour and the fact that I can read news magazines and newspapers on my iPad but for more indulgent reads nothing beats the turn of a physical page.
The physical printed word will survive – it just needs to find it’s place.