Old-fashioned, cumbersome, time-wasting, paper-wasting, obsolete relics that can't keep up with our fragmented, hyper-consuming, surface-grazing culture? Never, argues author, teacher, and editor Lidia Yuknavitch, never will the printed book succumb to the false cries of a fatal future. In her moving piece about the longevity of books, Yuknavitch makes the case for books' cultural currency and their ability to enlighten, explain, enrage, and call us to action. She writes:
"People keep telling me that books are in danger of disappearing. E-books, Kindles, iPads will replace the object of the book as we know it. I’m not worried.The act of reading a book on an e-reader, or of reading a book on this same screen I type on now, seems as unappealing as reaching my hand into a sewer pipe. This is evidently not the case for those non-technophobes with the means, to which Amazon, Inc. can attest: The online retailer announced last month that digital book sales have finally outpaced print book sales after a four year battle.
"The new technologies are pretty cool, to be honest. Very snappy. But until the day when we are cyborg-fitted with our art and literature, I already know why we’ll keep picking up books and putting them in our hands, turning the pages.
"In times of crisis, we can still remember them burning."
I will concede that all of this digital consumption is not such a horrible thing on the grand scale. As reviewer Robert McCrum points out, there is a huge surge in global literacy. We're reading, writing, attending book festivals, and paying attention to literary prizes on an unprecedented level. And the art of writing is undergoing change as well. With the interactive nature of digital, stories can transcend (or incorporate more than) text, creating a narrative that swerves, plays along, and is engaging.
Perhaps that is the case for some. But I'll take my Choose Your Own Adventure over clicking any day.
Image credit: Plus Factory Blog