Archive for January, 2011

Print is dying, so you should read it more

January 21, 2011

Print is rapidly going the way of Latin, but look how that turned out.  In the Middle Ages, it was the language of European science.  And long after people had stopped writing in it, it kept its importance as a mark of education.  Those who read Latin were glad that not many others did – you can’t have an elite if everyone’s in it.

So it will be with print.  As fewer people read print, those who do will find the sills it develops becoming rarer and more valuable.

For example, print is expensive, so things that make it into print have generally been pretty well edited and proof-read.  While the web encourages skimming and making connections, print encourages slow, methodical, close reading, making notes, and going back over difficult parts.

This is not to say that print is better, but everyone is going to be conversant with the web – no special effort will be required, just as immigrants’ children will pick up English no matter what their parents do.

Of course, this post is somewhat self-defeating, so I should stop here, before you decide to something silly like ditch this blog for Dickens or Livy.  Just remember that in the country of the iPhone, the one-book man is king.