VIEWPOINT: Alan Twigg On The Future Of Print

Long Live Print!

Right now we are overburdened with hype about the invasion of e-world publishing. 

At BC BookWorld, we believe in the book, not the e-book. Some technologies do not change. The pillow. The spoon. The wheel. It is conceivable the printed book will remain as one of those sublime technologies. 

The Greeks used to go to caves and ask "Oracles" to predict the future. There were always priests around to oblige, purporting to be certain. Nowadays many of the prophets of change have a vested interest in the inevitability of e-books and 'aggregated' book lists. These are the people who are advising us that the invasion of e-book technology will crush conventional book publishing.

As a library trustee, I recently met with 20 avid teenage readers from around the city of Vancouver. They were asked if they preferred e-book tablets or books. All 20 teens enthusiastically affirmed their clear and strong preference for reading printed books.

Although it might be scientifically feasible to feed oneself intravenously, with a tube, instead of chomping with one's teeth and swallowing with one's old-school gullet--thereby saving billions of dollars worth of labour time and energy--most humans still prefer to eat the old-fashioned way. Replicating our species has not radically altered either, although more efficient scientific methods now exist.

The sky has always been falling in the world of publishing. I have no doubt that libraries and bookselling will transform. But the book is not going away. 

Long Live Print! If you want to endure a half-hour television interview in which I tried to counter the flow of e-book hype, there's one posted at http://youtu.be/Z-_L2LI-c7E Meanwhile maybe more of us should start speaking up for our belief in the book.

Every day we are being bamboozled by futurists who confidently declare the end is nigh for print. At the recent Writers Union AGM in Vancouver, for instance, a Toronto-based agent noted that print advertising was in severe decline. Well, yes and no. While the June issue of Quill & Quire has only ONE ad from a Canadian publishing company, the June issue of BC BookWorld has more than FIFTY book industry ads amid 20 pages of advertising in a 40-page issue. Don't expect to read about that in the Globe & Mail. 

Our newspaper is available on-line, but that electronic version is a mere adjunct at www.abcbookworld.com More importantly, we are now mailing the paper version of the new Summer issue to prominent book industry personnel across the country. If you are not on our mailing list, let us know. We also provide a free public reference site for and about more than 10,000  B.C. authors at abcbooworld. Someone else is welcome to start a similar site for e-book authors. We're sticking with print.

Long live print.
Alan Twigg

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Opinions expressed in Viewpoint blog items are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the Alliance, its staff, board, or membership.

 

 

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