I’m in mourning. If this were the late 1800s, I would be wearing all black, carrying a piece of the deceased’s hair in a locket around my neck or, in my case, a page torn from a book. Yes, printed material is dead, or perhaps gasping for it’s last breath if you want to be more precise and a bit morbid.
I wish I could say the demise was slow and lingering, worthy of its place in history. Instead, it was a quick, peel the band-aid off fast before it hurts, kind of death. The fact that it’s near death is universally acknowledged. Recently, PC World magazine announced that they’re discontinuing the print edition and going all digital by the end of the summer. No, this alone is not shocking or even a harbinger of the beginning of the end of the printed word. The shocking part is that the commentary consisted solely of how long the magazine took to make the switch; implying that printed magazines are somehow archaic and passé. Newsweek PC magazine, U.S News and World Report did it years ago.
If we can’t, as civilized society, read our People magazine in the toilet what can we do? I guess I need to acknowledge that the writing is on the wall–the Facebook wall (or the bathroom wall, same difference). We, as a society, are reading differently and the change wasn’t even generational. Whole generations converted like that. I don’t know if we have to change the name of our book club to a Kindle club. Nah, not on my watch.
There is a generation that will soon be coming to age that knows nothing different. We have the Baby Boomers, Generations X and Y and now the Digital Generation. We’re changing the way we interact with the world. What will be changed next? If you mess with my morning coffee, I may have to kill you. I feel like I’m the last of the Mohicans or should I say the Bookhicians (the dwindling tribe of people who primarily read printed material).
The question is how could something that has been around for centuries go obsolete so fast???? In the blink of an eye really. We have simply become too clever for our own good and something wondrous and special got harmed in the process. Why are some things gone before their time, like Nirvana or the sci fi show Firefly, and others linger on, like the diet soft drink Tab (yes, it’s still around and refuses to die).
Maybe I should start a Change.org petition. Since it’s online, people will probably read it but will anyone know what I’m talking about or even care? What about Kickstarter? That’s all the rage these days. But what would I raise money for? A printing press?
Maybe I could appeal to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and petition them to put the printed book on their endangered species list. No, wait a minute, they might actually want this. All those trees dying for paper, messing up some species natural habitat and such. I can’t call them. Is there anyone out there? If a tree falls in the forest and no one makes it into a book, does anyone care?