A vintage, mint condition Spiderman comic. A first-run signed copy of American Gods. A German copy of Abbey Road on vinyl. … Print, whether in book, magazine or comic format—or even in the form of album art—is collectible and holds value, far beyond that of the dollar.
Even in a digital age, print journalism still matters. Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni has it right: “If all my belongings are up in the ‘clouds,’ what do I have?” (Mr. Magazine 2014 Manifesto: The Future of Print in a Digital Age)
I fell in love with writing for magazines, because they have the power to start real conversations. And besides, there’s nothing quite like feeling that slick, glossy paper hot off the press while you enjoy your first cup of coffee in the morning. It’s simply gorgeous.
I fell in love with writing poetry and songs after years of reading books. I have not yet found the patience to write a novel. Though, I did reserve that lengthy thought process for term papers and literary essays, much to the chagrin of my professors.
But think of the tactile sensuality of a book! The way it feels between your fingers as you dog-ear your favorite entry. The way it smells of aged paper. Print has worth.
I had my first love affair with a book when I was a pre-teen. I was reading R.L. Stine and Baby-Sitters Club books by the time I first came across the master penmanship of Anne Rice, Roderick Anscombe (The Secret Life of Laszlo, Count Dracula) and H.P. Lovecraft. Then I found my way to all the classics (Grapes of Wrath and so forth) by way of high school English class reading assignments, and eventually, I was reading the best work of all the beatniks—Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and anything I could get my hands on by Allen Ginsberg. Even their rock alter ego, Jim Morrison, had published several books of poetry comprising some of my favorite poems of all time (“Horse Latitudes” is one).
By grad school, I had collected a library worth of books in my apartment so extensive that my friends stopped volunteering to help me move. Every box was “full of bricks,” they’d say. I sadly had to release some of my collection.
But my love of print ran even deeper—from hoarding favorite music magazines and clips of newspaper articles to notes I had passed among friends in elementary school to Christmas and birthday cards to love letters and movie stubs to song lyrics and silly ideas I had scribbled into overflowing notebooks and more.
I had become the librarian of my own life—all because I was passionate about print.
So when the world switched one day into a digital format, I became a stranger in this new electronic landscape. But as a journalist, I sucked down my stubbornness and learned the ways of “ones and zeros” (and everything that followed) to keep up with changing times. But I still go back to my books—those old friends—from time to time.
“After years of having a digital love affair, there is nothing wrong with coming home, apologizing and confessing your unfaithfulness to your lovely print spouse,” Husni writes.
I know exactly what he means. (This means YOU, Gaiman!)
The awful truth, though, is that nowadays, according to Husni, “more than 60 percent of Internet usage is machine-driven and generated, while print is 100 percent human-generated.”
It’s true. As a magazine editor, I know how much blood and sweat goes into the planning and editing a good article. I plan for the print product first and the digital version second. A lot of it has to do with the way a reader enters an article and begins consuming content in a print layout. It’s so much more intimate than its digital version. To me, print matters more.
And besides, who wants to be bombarded with online advertisements while trying to read a story anyway? I’d rather enjoy flipping through the pages while on my porcelain throne rather than worrying about if my iPad mini is going to slip through my fingers and fall into the murky waters below.
Above all else, print matters, because who wants to have a digital memorial when they can have one in print—telling their life story through their love letters?