There is only one magazine over the last couple of decades that I have read religiously, The New Yorker. Every week a new edition appears, often much later than it hits the stands, in my mailbox and I get vaguely giddy cracking open the slim edition to see what treasures lie inside. As a lapsed English major I have long given up reading novels due to time constraints but thanks to the weekly fiction in the New Yorker I am able to stay relatively current with what’s happening in the world of literature particularly since the short stories that appear in the magazine are often developed into novels.
This venerable publication is now available electronically and has gotten me thinking.
A fantastic blog by Jason Biggs, appeared recently in CrunchGear — It Is Finished: The New Yorker iPad App Is The Beginning Of The End Of Print. The entry details one paperphile’s descent into the world of printed bits and bytes, a journey that reaches a moment of intense reflection and rumination with the availability of the New Yorker on the iPad:
There is something in our core that loves a book. We love the paper, the smell, the visual cues and dog-eared bookmarking techniques. But I wonder if this is a learned response, handed down to us in a long line that began with Gutenberg and ended with Mom, Pop, and our favorite English teacher. I wonder if my kids will care about books as much as I did – the physical objects, not the stuff inside – and whether their kids will even know books exist. There are generational overlaps that happen all the time. My father’s old records, once wildly important to him in the 1960s and 70s ended up in my hands in the 90s and taught me to love Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Stones. But will I ever fire them up again? No. Those records were the last gasp of a discovery engine that stopped when the last mass-market LP was sold in the last Tower Records store. That engine can’t start again, but I suspect my own son will find my old CDs, become curious, and then go off on a journey of his own. I wonder how his son, years from now, will find my son’s discarded bits and reconstitute them into music but that’s a sad and metaphysical thing – the passing of bits from parent to child – that I don’t even want to ponder it.
To paraphrase Mark Twain (and I’m pretty sure he did say this one), until now the reports of the death of print have been greatly exaggerated. Now I’m no longer sure.
Pau for now…