Permanent Ink

Lately, a lot of the conversation in the publishing community has been about e-books and other digital media, and whether their growth signifies the demise of print publications. But I’m starting to think that maybe print and digital are two distinct animals—that the impermanence of digital just means that there will continue to be a different, separate place for print, in all its tangible glory.

Here’s the thing: My kids (ages 7 and 5) are entirely unimpressed with anything they see on the computer. Digital photography has been commonplace since before they were born, so they have spent their lives seeing pictures and video of themselves on the computer screen. They like seeing them, but they don’t find them remarkable.

When a photo of my little one appeared in an online slideshow on our local paper’s website, I sent the link to all our relatives—but she barely paused to glance at the picture on her way to take out the crayons. A few weeks later, that photo was gone from the site.

I’ve noticed, though, that print is a much bigger deal to the kids. They’re awed by my friend Mary Anne, whose name they have actually seen on the cover of a real, printed book. (They’d better show that same admiration when they eventually see my name on a dustjacket!)

Their friend’s dad wrote an editorial for the print edition of the same local paper that had posted my child’s photo, and they thought it was cause for celebration. Literally—when I was going out the following night with the same child’s mother, the kids asked if it was to celebrate the editorial.

So while some of us are still occasionally amazed by what we can do with computers, I wonder if that will be the case for those who were born well into the digital age. While e-publishing is likely to be the dominant form of media in the near future, I think there will still be a place for publications that won’t disappear from sight with just one click.

What do you think? Do you have an e-reader? Do you still get the print version of your newspaper? Do you think there’s room for both?

Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons



Filed under publishing

5 responses to “Permanent Ink

  1. Jon Nilson

    My Kindle subscription to the New York Times has become part of my dialy life – and I don’t have to wade through all the ads for stores in Manhattan! We still get the Tribune but only for a few of the features, which come across better in print.

  2. I read a book a week and I still don’t have an e-reader. I might eventually, but for now I still like the feel of a book!

  3. Hmm…

    I have an eReader (a Kindle), but it’s pretty much for airplane reading only—mysteries, romances, fun fiction. I still really like books, and if I suspect that I’ll read a book again, or if it’s a more “literary” novel, I still want a paper copy.

    As for the paper, I still get the New York Times delivered on Sundays, but the other days of the week I read it online. There’s still something so awesome about curling up with the paper on a Sunday morning—I can’t give it up.

    The latest news about the Kindle, though, sounds like it might be a real bump in the road for people. The “spamazon” label is going to be really difficult for Amazon to beat if they aren’t careful. That’s been an interesting story for me to follow.

    I am seriously considering the purchase of an iPad, and I think that book apps for extremely difficult texts (I’ve heard a lot of buzz about an app for, I think, The Wasteland.) I think if we can get to the point where there’s sharing of annotations, multi-media demonstrations of ideas in the text, etc…that will be really cool.


    • We haven’t given up the Sunday paper yet either, although it’s mostly for the kids at this point.

      I’ve heard talk about e-readers for textbooks, which would be a great idea if not for the compatibility and initial cost (of the readers).

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