Thinking in paperback

June 17th, 2010

I found myself thinking a lot about books today, those rectangular things with their covers artistically crafted to lure us in, our noses stuck in them, eventually to be found mysteriously at the bottom of a bag or box with scruffy corners but no less valuable to us because of their contents and what they mean to us.

Our whole media world is busy going digital, we’ve seen this have a huge impact on some industries, especially the music industry which has been slow to adapt to the changing way that consumers behave. If the consumer wants it, they want it immediately, so digital music makes a lot of sense as a platform.

Logically it should be the same for books. Amazon released the Kindle, Sony followed closely behind with the Reader which has been heavily backed by Waterstone’s in the UK, Apple are late to the party but are claiming to revolutionise the way we read books with the iPad (who wants to travel with lots of books when you can take a sliver of aluminium and glass that you need to charge constantly).

On the London Underground this morning a business man was sporting a flashy new iPad, I was half expecting that he’d be nose deep in a novel or checking his email or some such, but no he was heavily stuck in a maze of menus, quickly realising with a pained expression that he had no connectivity to the Internet so anything that he didn’t already have on his iPad, he couldn’t get access to.

In the digital industry we’re always chanting content is king, and we’re always going on about the importance of simplicity, so at the very basic level I think those are clear reasons that the trusty paper book could continue to beat it’s electronic equivalent, but I can’t help thinking there is something just a little bit magical to them as well.

Books seem to have personalities of their own, they’re compact and happy to be carried around with you, letting you dive into the world they create for you whenever you want. They’re try not to be complicated, other than the alluring cover it’s no frills and no distractions.

We can’t seem to part with our books when we’re done with them. What is it that makes us cling on to them even though we might not read them again for years? We’ll might lend them to our friends, we might go as far as swapping them for other books, but we just won’t part with them for money alone.

Maybe they have some hidden cosmic value that we simply can’t put a figure on once we’ve been taken in by their story, or maybe I’m just crazy. Either way you have my colleague Ray, the random business man on the tube, and a client I’m working with at Waterstone’s to blame for this rambling!


  • Orinoko says:

    This was interesting and timely – I have been looking at the Kindle (it seems to have a very long battery life, unlike the iPad!) and the Kobo. The notion that one can pack an entire library into one of thse things is fascinating … ideal for a serviceman going on a 6 month tour, perhaps. Or pre-stocked with the reference material for a course … and no chance of wandering off on the web! But would I take it in the bath, where I do most of my recreational reading? Not likely.

    I followed you here after your comment on a picture on Flickr …

    I have enjoyed what I read so far … too bad I am unlikely ever to be able to visit any of these restaurants you review!

    Namaste =]

  • Rob says:

    It’s comments like this that make it worth writing down these thoughts in the first place. Thank you :)

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