Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The History of Publishing


Remember, back in the day when we read off scrolls? Boy, were they ever frustrating to carry around... but, we just couldn't give up that scroll smell. Yum, papyrus. We liked it so much we came up with toilet paper on a roll, tape, and Fruit-Roll-Ups. Good days. Good days.

Then, the blasted Codex people came along. We can make books better, they said, we'll make them more portable. You had to carry many scrolls just to have a book. Well, now you can have a book in small brick form. You can carry more than one at a time! 

Sure, we thought. And how much will this cost us?

It'll be cheaper, they said, not your 15.99 copper Roman coins but only 9.99 copper coins... well, unless you buy from Roman bookseller Caesar MacMillanius, he wants to charge you 12.99.

We gave in and look where that got us... we let our guard down and now our walls are cluttered with paper books.

Then came Gutenburg and his new-fangled gadget. No! We stamped our feet. Yes, yes, he said, like that... a press, a printing press!

The use of a press was a key technological difference that provided European book publishers increased profits over their ancient Chinese counterparts. (Sound familiar?) Now, the average person can have access to books... anywhere!

To weak to fight, we gave in... again.

But, we must not give up! Our reading freedom is about to be challenged once again. Read on a computer? A device the size of a hand? What!? That's insane! My eyes, my poor eyes!

It’s just not the same as a book. There is no feel of the paper between your fingers, no sense of wear and tear on the spine of a well loved tome. You can’t dog ear the pages or make notes in the margin. You can’t lend it to a friend when you are done. You can’t lovingly pick it out of a book store and drop it in the mail because you think your nephew would really dig the scary vampires and zombies on the cover.

How are we to look intelligent and well-read if all our books can get lost behind the cushions in our sofa? Perhaps we will once again give in and our world will change again. Can we really stop progress?

15 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Yeah, I'm thinking there's no stopping this train.

The only worry I have is that I'm very clumsy and I drop things a lot. I'd hate to wipe out my whole library with one drop! I guess I'd have to back it up on another device.

And you can't read in the tub.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Laura said...

We can't stop progress but we can stick with the things that we love. Like real books. Nothing will ever equal the feeling of a book made of real paper, the smell of the ink, the gloss of a cover...Plus all the other things that you mentioned.

Although technology is supposed to ease our life, still...Why fix something that it's not broken?

Ann Elle Altman said...

Elizabeth, Oh, I never even thought about that, would you lose all the books you've had? Agh, that would destroy me.

Laura, I agree. I have a few rare books in my collection and value them so much. Can't collect rare books on Kindle.

ann

Jemi Fraser said...

Technology is tough to stop, or even slow. It will be interesting to see where all this ends up in 20 years or so.

Journaling Woman said...

It is coming and may or may not stay. One thing is for sure, people want digital content.

However, it's going to be hard to cuddle up with a reader- that's for sure.

Kimberly Franklin said...

The Kindle may be the new trend, but I'll never buy one. I love my paper books too much! : D

Fairway Fiction said...

I'm one who wants to keep the old ways - I love my books! If I'm lucky enough to have a book published - I want just that - a "real" book that I can hold in my hands and keep displayed on my shelf.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Can't but agree with you, Ann.
Mine is not just a love affair with words, it is a love affair with books. Physical books printed on paper. And it is a sensory experience for me - the smell, the feel, the sound, the breeze when you fan it out, the act of scribbling or making dog ears.
The only reason I am even willing to think of kindle is because I can read unpublished books on it.

sherrinda said...

You can't stop progress, so I'm trying to go with the flow and not cry too much. ;)

Ann Elle Altman said...

Jemi, yeah, we may be pushed out of books in the future, we may not have a choice or we may have to pay a fortune to read with paper.

JW, I agree. It will be different for sure.

Kimberley, I have actually found my Kindle on PC to be easy to read from and have quite a few book on it. Most classics are free.

FF, when I got my book in my hands, it felt so odd. But, the feeling was wonderful.

Rayna, you're right, kindle has a use. It's a tricky time. I'm not saying I'm agree with the change but only that I think it will happen whether we want it to or not.

Sherrinda, good attitude!

ann

B.J. Anderson said...

Hehe, I'm one of those evil Kindle users, and I really love it. Now, that doesn't mean I've stopped buying books--far from it. I mostly use my Kindle for reading manuscripts, whether my own or a friend's. And I live in the middle of nowhere and have no bookstore, so if I see something I really want to read, I can have it in a minute instead of waiting 2 weeks.

Stephen Tremp said...

I'm finally giving in and buying a Kindle or the Sony equivelant. I can see the usefulness, but will still prefer books overall to the electronic screen.

Stephen Tremp

Elana Johnson said...

I think the digital wave is inevitable, but *ducks* I don't think it's bad. I think as long as people are reading, it's good. And if some of them need electronic devices to do it, so be it. I don't think the printed book will go by the wayside, and really with more formats, the more stories you can get into the hands of readers.

Ann Elle Altman said...

BJ, I totally understand. I live in Mexico and there are no English bookstores so I love reading on Kindle.

Stephen, well, at least were saving trees.

ann

TirzahLaughs said...

Maybe it will be like the radio. The television didn't replace it, it just adjusted it's influence.

Tirz