A house without books is like a room without windows.
- Heinrich Mann
Unless you have been hiding under a rock for the past ten years you will have realised that there have been significant changes in the world around us. You will have heard people banging on about the "digital age", or "the frontier", or "the revolution". You will have also heard that if you want to move forward in any capacity, whether it be in a business sense or a personal sense, you have got to "think digital" and embrace change and new technology because - well - it’s the future.
Recently, I happened across a blog by a young, up-and-coming business entrepreneur. In one post he discussed the fall of print media and advertising and how having technology such as Apple’s iPad or Kindle destroys the hopes of anyone trying to reach their target market through the print medium. At the bottom of the post I noticed a poll which consisted of the following:
Will you ever permanently give up print?
- Heck No - I love the feel of dead trees on my finger tips
- Yes absolutely - I want a Mag+ with AR Yesterday!
- Yeah-Nah - I’m a fence sitter
I answered "Heck No"…. But I can’t help think the author had completely missed the idea behind print as a medium. I don’t choose to buy magazines solely for the purpose of destroying native trees, I buy them because when I read a magazine I form a relationship with it - a relationship that goes something like this…
A few times a week I leave the protective warmth of my high-rise office walls to venture downstairs to the newsagent on the ground floor. In the newsagent, I buy an energy drink, sometimes a chocolate bar, and I peruse the floor to ceiling display of magazines. Like a prospective relationship - I check them out. I pick them up. I flick through them. I smell them. I then chat with the owners of the shop about how my day has been and debate the pros and cons of the magazines I am trying decide between. If I’m lucky the owners will have just got a copy of my favourite magazine in, or they may have a new one that will be just my cup of tea. Just like a first date, however, I only get the opportunity to take the magazine at face value - I only get a glimpse of what it has to offer. If - and when - I decide which magazine I’ll take home with me, I pay for it, exit the shop and trudge back up to my office as the despair of sitting in front of a computer screen for the rest day drifts over me like a cloud.
In the elevator to my office the magazine and I have our second date. It's more intimate than the first as it's just us. The excitement of getting to know each other better is overwhelming. I become flushed and a little out of breath as the elevator doors open and I’m forced to jam my magazine into my handbag and negotiate pleasantries with whoever has reached the office door at the same time as me.
It's not until I get home that the real relationship begins - the next few hours (months, in real relationship time) are pure bliss. I read the magazine from front to back, top to bottom - inhaling the scent of ink on paper, feeling the smooth paper under my touch, enjoying the noise every page turn makes. I devour it; every detail is scrutinized, every advertisement analysed and all inadequacies, that the magazine may have, are identified. Once I have done this, I will do it all over again. Something might interrupt me - the clock striking 11 pm, or the jug finishing boiling, or dinner is ready - and the magazine gets put down in its place of honour beside my bed.
In this place beside my bed the magazine stays, for a week or so, for me to freely check back through and make sure I haven’t missed anything. Then it is put on my artfully arranged pile of previous purchases (relationships) as a record of the good times we’ve shared. It's not a graveyard of trees, empty and lifeless; it's a library of lessons, of good memories and of cherished moments - a history of then and an inkling of what is to come.
As the months pass, I have more brief but intimate encounters with printed materials. I can always feel safe and secure in the knowledge that should I need to use a recipe, reflect on a poignant article, glimpse at a beautiful photograph or illustration, my magazines will be there waiting for me, patiently - always giving, always supportive and always offering moments to escape and remember better or more exciting times. Sometimes, I lend them to friends and family who I think will benefit from the pearls of wisdom among the pages. Sometimes, they lay there quietly for years until the right opportunity arises.
My relationship with print media will not be torn apart no matter what digital or technological advances occur in the near or distant future. It is a relationship that will last as long as I do.