Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Conversation & A Question



The only detail in today's post that has anything at all to do with France is the fact that I'm writing it from here.

I wanted to tell you about several conversations I've had lately and if you have the time and the inclination I would in turn love to hear your take on the subject.

Topic for the day: Reading.

Question of the day: How are we reading these days?

As you know I have many many friends working in the world of the printed word. All are still attached to paper, but each one has changed his or her habits in their own reading and all are cutting edge tech savvy.

One editor friend took courses to help put her newspaper onto the tech fast track and often sets her clock for the middle of the night to make sure no gliches have muddled up the paper's site.

She is one of my very, very best friends and is also one of the funniest individuals I have ever known. We had an e-mail conversation last Sunday morning and in closing she said, "I have to run now, I'm off to church to pray for the newspaper business." I whisked off a response suggesting she "include books and magazines in your prayers."


Yesterday I was in a long and lovely conversation with an editor friend at a magazine. She, like the rest of us raised in these media, continues to be passionate about her metier. But she said it is anything but easy and when she speaks, as she often does, at colleges and universities, and sees "that sparkle in the students' eyes when they tell me they want to work for magazines, I caution them 'if you were my child, I would tell you to look elsewhere for your future'."

She does not steer them away from careers in the media, only print on paper.



She admitted that the only words between hardcovers that she has bought in the last several years have  been either cookbooks or the occasional beautiful coffee table tome filled with luscious photos to which she returns over and over. "All the rest of my reading is done on my iPad," she said, "and I have never read as much in the past as I do now because it is so easy."

Yet another friend, a famous serious fiction author, is still turning out hard cover books, but last week he did a Twitter interview with a major magazine to promote his latest novel. And, for his previous work he "Tweeted" little teasers from the book every day for months. If it's not part of the "read," technology has definitely become part of the promotion and marketing package for books, which isn't surprising.

And he, like my magazine editor friend, does all of his reading on his iPad. He even has his magazine subscriptions therein. When I saw him recently he shared his collection of New Yorker magazine cartoons with me on his screen.


Last Christmas my daughter and son-in-law gave me a Kindle. I take it wherever I go and am exchanging books with her and another friend. But, I still dearly love books and I am a magazine addict.
For me there is something comforting about a house filled with books, curled up in front of the fireplace or under a duvet in my bed with a book is pure heaven for me.

One thing has changed in my life and it makes me feel slightly guilty: I no longer buy, subscribe to or read newspapers. I get all my news from the Internet and occasionally television. (I'm not a huge television fan, never have been.)


I'm wondering if books will become collector's items or merely decorative dust collectors. How sad that would be.

Just curious, what types of books -- real books, not e-books -- would you buy? And do you still want your magazines real magazines?

45 comments:

Kathy said...

I mourn the passing of the hardcover era, but I do love my Kindle. That said, I think my next upgrade will be to an iPad. Being able to travel with several books and magazines in such a portable format is its best selling point.

Spiral Style said...

Love my Kinde, especially for travel. Love hardcover, softcover,and audio books. Can't wait for my magazines to arrive (about 8/month) Read online magazines and blogs. Printed words, no matter how I get them are my lifeblood. I can do without music but I need words (and gorgeous photos)

coffeeaddict said...

This topic is very close to my heart. I am and always will be a book aficionado. And while I don't subscribe to any daily newspapers or magazines, except for my sewing magazines, I think it is vital to retain the written word on paper. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't embrace new technologies, they are very useful and even ecological to some extent. But to my mind, nothing can really replace the feel of a book. I find it difficult to commit to memory something I read on screen as oppose to something I read from a book. When writing my thesis I found it indispensable to have all my sources in a printed form, that way I could add footnotes, mark pages and just have a better overview of the material in general.

LuxeBytes said...

It's so strange that one of the pleasures of visiting friends in their homes -- namely, perusing their shelves to look at their book and music collections -- is one day going to disappear. One day, it will all be on their iPads ... and if we want to find out what their tastes are, we'll have to look at their Facebook page instead!

Really, that's a dystopic future right there.

xoxoxo --
Marsi

helen tilston said...

You have presented us with a very timely subject. I read my news on line, but every once in a while when I see a newspaper, I gravitate to it and love the smell and texture. North American Magazines I have not found as interesting in the past five years. I will purchase French, Italian and British magazines occasionally. My reading remains in book form and spending so much time on a computer, I look forward to snuggling into bed with my book.
Helen xx

Villette said...

Alas my hours working everyday on the internet have almost ended my time with books. Worse, I am sure my attention span has been damaged -- my constant hopping from one site to another, chasing links, has changed my brain. And not for the better.

Ms. M said...

I still purchase books, but not nearly as many as I used to. Nowadays, the books I purchase are the ones I want to read slowly and leisurely at home. Everything else goes on my iPod in e-book or audiobook form.

As for magazines, I still prefer the printed form. I'd much rather look at pretty pictures on paper rather than on a screen.

It's interesting, though-- While I still have a few books on my shelves, I have completely stopped buying CDs and I no longer rent movies in disc form. I can't be bothered to pop a disc into a machine. My audio-visual home entertainment has gone completely virtual.

Simply Us said...

My husband, a book collector, ordered our Kindles, and I left mine in the box for a couple of months. First, my "it's not like holding a book in your hands and won't smell the same" spirit, and my annoyance at having to read directions dominated. But once he set it up for me, and I ordered my first book ~ I love it. The only books I buy now are cookbooks and style books. But it does still pain my heart to have heard today that Barnes and Noble is hurting, as well. Every changing worlds...
Have a great evening ~ Alexandra

Anonymous said...

I hope I am well and truly dead before before books are obsolete.

Anonymous said...

I feel so backward reading others reading habits. I dont even own an IPad or Kindle. But I do read papers online but always read everyday, pages from a book. I love the feel and smell of books (especially old books) and visit the library very often. Buying books becomes a pleasure online and I often browse teasing myself until I give in and purchase one. Then I can't wait until it is delivered. When my grandchildren stay, next to their beds is a selection of books and they are encouraged to read before sleeping. Hopefully encouraging them they will still desire the feel of a real book but who knows maybe books will become obsolete but what a tradgedy that day will be.

cheers Di

Murphy said...

I have always loved the look, feel and smell of paper books and magazines, and we have hundreds of books in our house. But I received an Ipad for
Valentine's Day, and I think it is fantastic! I have completed more books in the past 5 months than I read all last year, and I think it is because it is just so easy to download them and take them everywhere. I have been a little extravagant about buying some books I might have passed by in a store, but then I have actually read them quite promptly. Also - I have been rereading some classic favorites - like Jane Eyre - for free.
All of this fits in with my current de-cluttering mode: I only want paper books that I will re-read or that are beautiful, and there are plenty of those to fill the shelves.
I still love my paper New York Times - even though I read updates on line. I love magazines, but I don't subscribe except to the New Yorker - I buy them sometimes as treats or go to the library to read them.

James said...

My wife is a Kindle fan, she loves to read. My complaint is an old man one I guess. Ebooks have no soul. They have no body, or no smell. You can't feel the fine paper of a well made hardcover or the coarseness of a cheap detective paperback. They are one dimensional and deprive the reader of so much. OK time for my nap, I know.

Beryl said...

I love my newspaper in the paper version. My husband and I divi it up and pass articles back and forth. While he is reading one tidbit that I found interesting, I'll pick up another section, so no reading time wasted. Or I do the puzzles. But when you ask what type of actual books I will be buying, I'm afraid that I am almost to the big print type. The reason why I read so much more on my Nook, is that as it gets later in the day, I can actually adjust the type to be larger. Any book I download can be read with larger type - reason enough to own the technology - without taking into account the vast selection. I also need an actual book for take off and landing when flying.
As to magazines, my husband's life is better not having to trip over the piles of magazines that I would keep. There was alway something I knew I would want to reference later. On my Nook, I can store a garage worth.

aBroad said...

Hello dearling, from the planet where there are no libraries, newspapers, books, magazines etc in English unless they are used and at least 50 years old and molding.
I miss sitting on the floor in the living room with the New York Times spread out around me, on Sundays especially.
I miss the postman delivering my Home magazines and Cooking magazines and Fashion magazines , which are read in bits, so as to prolong the pleasure.
I miss leafing through a magazine for the recipe, marking pages to go back to and read at my leisure.
I miss the smell of a new book. I miss the feel of a nice big fat book, ready to be read, ready for hours of quiet enjoyment..
My Kindle is lovely and I will not complain, it is all I have ..Lovely friends bring me magazines from their worlds ( English speaking) and I hang on to them, no matter how old they are.
I packed and brought a collection of cooking magazines from the US .. they have their own shelf in the pantry in the kitchen..
James put it perfectly, EBooks have no soul.
besos.. from way down here..

LPC said...

Ironically, there's a very robust discussion of all this on Twitter:). Authors, publishers, and agents all love that platform it seems. Of course print will be to eBooks as opera is to movies. Such is the way of the world, like it or not.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

As a journalism teacher, this is a topic I discuss almost every day. I do subscribe to the newspaper, several magazines and I hold books and turn pages in my hand. I still want to cut them up...high light them...mark pages. I have not purchased a Kindle. Yesterday, I spent the entire day reading one book, cover to cover. I just do not see me having the same realtionship with a Kindle or Nook! I personally believe our local newspaper has thrown in the towel...if they produced a better product...they would not suffer as many circulation problems. But, I am also a realist and know this is a new world...that is why I decided to start a blog and spend more time online. However, I will spend the majority my time in this world fighting for the printed word to survive. I really believe that battle is important for many reasons!!

knitpurl said...

Very thoughtful topic. As a Kindle fan who is reading more, I admit to not missing hard cover books. Conversely I would miss Barnes & Noble and libraries. And, what would I buy for my young grandchildren if books were not available?
News I view online, but I enjoy my Kindle subscription to the Wall Street Journal. The Kindle-imposed limitations I won't go into.
Magazines I dearly love. Ripping out articles, illustrations, tossing the issue in my tote are part of who I am. xoxo, C.

Anonymous said...

Yes James does have it right. I have not changed my reading habits. Love real newspapers that dirty my fingers, new mags that arrive wapped in cling paper, new books with spine unbroken. My house is a fortress of books. I cannot destroy or toss one of them. Love them all, have reread many of them and I suspect will carry on doing so til the day I cash it in. Kids have showered me with all the new gagets and most of them are still in their boxes,I gave them a go but then gave them a pass. I dunno, just love the feel the smell and the possession of the real item, just an old lady thing I guess...

Anonymous said...

I love my paperbacks - my Sunday newspapers (online news during the week), and magazines. I, too, feel a house filled with these is cozy and comforting. I have several niches in the house - and outside under the trees - where I escape to read. I love carrying my worn books. Sometimes, when I can't sleep, I stand in front of my bookshelves and chose from one of my many dear old friends. Not ready for a Kindle - not for a long time.

Lorrie said...

Can we not have the best of both worlds? I would hope so. But I wonder.
I do not have an e-reader, but I'm thinking about getting one, especially for traveling. I love print books - they sit like friends on my shelves. It's pleasurable for me to stand in front of my bookshelves and let my eyes and hands wander over the spines. I can't imagine receiving the same tactile pleasure from an e-reader. I might pull out a book and read a page or two, remembering and re-thinking.

Magazines are a treat - while I'm an avid blog reader, I find that I'm less rushed with a print magazine. I curl up with a cup of tea, a square of dark chocolate, and a new magazine and I'm perfectly content.

Technology has many benefits, but the soul, as James said, is missing. At least to me. Will it be so for future generations?

M-T said...

Thomas Jefferson's library at Monticello contains every book ever published up to that time. Naturally, he had read every one of them.

Imagine having a library that contained the sum total of human knowledge at your finger tips and being able to read it all in a single lifetime!!

The Sabbatical Chef said...

I just love my books. Maybe that shows my age, but I cannot imagine a world without a book in my hand. I, too, love magazines and I still love my local newspaper. I write a monthly food column for it. Oui, I am most definitely showing my age... Read on, though, however you enjoy doing it. (And I covet the iPad... I really really want one.)

quintessence said...

Well considering I worked for a published house for close to 20 years, we know where my allegiances lie. But that being said, I am also obviously a blogging, computer, twitter addict. Oddly enough, however, I still read books in their original form as well as magazines and our local newspaper. I read online magazines as well although many are not particularly considerate of those of us with aging eyes.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I am a fan of books...working in a library as I do.
I love the feel of the paper and turning the pages...I know kindles are the trend but I am not giving up!

I might be in the minority but that's where I stand.

ida said...

Amen to Hostess we are fighting to save our tiny library here in the Marches UK...I have no kindle or ipad!!

I love receiving my large orders of books from amazon,always have a book on the go..the world will be a much sadder place without them.

I get all the news online & from tv.Ida

SewingLibrarian said...

I love books in all forms. I don't own an e-reader yet - and I buy only those books that I want to reread. Otherwise, I use the library. But I can see the day is coming when my eyes will demand an e-reader. I have a condition called myopic macular degeneration, being held at bay by injections, but I think in future I will need larger type.
As for magazines, I love my magazines and think the photos are so much better in print. Example: I watched the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on my computer (no t.v. in our house), but it wasn't until I saw the Duchess's dress in magazine layouts that I could see all the wonderful details. They just didn't come across on the computer, at least not on my monitor!
E-readers and not-books are great for students. And if they bring down the cost of textbooks (a disgrace), I'm all for them in that context.

Jill Ann said...

I guess I'm a hybrid. I have a Kindle, which is great for traveling or waiting for appointments, or spending a week in the hospital with a sick relative. My husband bought it for me, even though I told him I didn't want one, because the books and magazines are threatening to take over our house. I still buy real books, especially if they have any pictures. Still buy way too many magazines.

But the thing I'm really worried about is newspapers. I've read a daily newspaper, cover to cover, ever since I learned how to read at age three. It's a cherished part of my day, to sit with my tea and breakfast and newspaper. Online news just isn't as good; you have to click through to each article, and you miss a lot. With a newspaper, it's all laid out in front of you, and you end up reading interesting things you might not have heard about otherwise. One of my criteria for my future retirement location is whether there's a decent local newspaper.

Mary said...

No e-reader and no plans to buy one. I read newspaper that my neighbor recycles to me and NYTimes, Seattle Times and LATimes articles online.

My books are selectively purchased, but I read mostly from checked out library books.

Obviously, I'm over-the-hill but loving every moment when I am with the printed word on paper. My magazine subscriptions have now gone down to the remaining 4 months of American Vogue and I will not renew. I'm afraid magazines will be history...
Mary in Oregon

Anonymous said...

I still adore newspapers, a Sunday without the NY Times would be unbearable.I want to read the little story that is not online. I want to hold books, turn real pages, look at them stacked up on my nightstand, gaze at them on the library shelf. I have a Kindle, use it once in awhile, but I am still a sucker for the real deal, print.

Elizabeth said...

I'm at the computer all day with my work and pop on to the Internet every once in a while to read lovely blogs like this one. Then I turn off the computer for the evening and eventually read myself to sleep with a book, which is easier on my eyes and nice to hold. I like magazines with their lovely pictures that I cut out and save.

However convenient the technology is, it doesn't bring me a peace like paper does.

Of Sageand Sepia said...

I lovely books - the paper, the font, the heft, the smell of paper. I love my bookshelves full of changing inventory and some never-to- part with selections.

That said, I love the convenience of e- book readers for travel. like many other, I get most of my news from the internet, but still hold I to my Sunday NewYork Times subscription. I feel like I have a door firmly planted
In the past and one tentatively stepping forward!

Pamela said...

I receive our local paper,and a few magazines.I buy the NY Times on line, I also love the feel, the look, the smell of a book, but alas with a Best Buy gift card and nothing interesting there to purchase, I broke down and purchased a Nook. I am surprised how much I am enjoying it! I can "borrow" e-books from our local library, so I can read all the currents without committing to a purchase. It travels well BUT it won't stop me from continuing to purchase real books.

Anonymous said...

Have owned my Kindle for four years, actually my present one is my second. Dropped the first and damaged the screen. I also have the Kindle PC app on my lap top and the mobile app on my cell phone. I still buy hardcover books and probably always will. Magazines used to be a passion but I have cancelled most of my subscriptions and don't watch much televison. Easy to pick up news on the internet.

TK Kerouac said...

I'll always have a good read while on vacation, a real live book.
Latest one is "Revenge of the Mistress"

Anonymous said...

I Pad for books love that I can instantly get something new to read.. do buy magazines which seem to always disappoint ... little new or interesting content... just purged my home of a life time collection of books keeping only the ones of special meaning a move that has given me more space and less to dust

Joni said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. I absolutely LOVE books. Some days (when I have the time), I stand in front of my book shelves and take in all that I've read. I get a thrill checking out books from the library or getting a packaged delivered from Amazon. Hubby and I still get the newspaper delivered to our house. Don't you just love the way newspaper and books smell? How how about the sound a new book makes when you crack it open for the very first time.

But . . . I can feel the lure of a Kindle. I can imagine how wonderful they might be. Not sure how long it'll be before I cross over to the dark side. Ha ha!

Wildernesschic said...

I read a lot of blogs.. so online reading also I read online news .. but when it comes to a novel.. I love a hardback .. I always purchase a hardcover when I can I love to keep my books xx

Barbara said...

James said it best. I use my Kindle for travel and the occasional download of a book club selection.

My "real" reading remains firmly ensconced between the pages of an actual book. I feel deprived of the sensual pleasures of reading when using my Kindle. It has its uses but will never displace my love of books.

Rebecca said...

Books. Actual. Hard cover. Print on paper. Books.

Kindles, etc. will keep evolving. The next new thing will emerge. I hope and pray that books will endure.

We get our news on internet & I currently only subscribe to one magazine -- and that because the subscription was SO low I couldn't help myself. I get my magazine fix at Barnes & Noble now that Borders closed up on me. Shhhhhh. Don't tell anyone.

Rebecca said...

Books. Actual. Hard cover. Print on paper. Books.

Kindles, etc. will keep evolving. The next new thing will emerge. I hope and pray that books will endure.

We get our news on internet & I currently only subscribe to one magazine -- and that because the subscription was SO low I couldn't help myself. I get my magazine fix at Barnes & Noble now that Borders closed up on me. Shhhhhh. Don't tell anyone.

Splenderosa said...

Books I now Kindle to read, but the beautiful books, cookbooks too, will always be "real" books. I know oue IPads can do cookbooks in color, but somehow I wouldn't do that. Magazines I must have, cannot do electronic for any of them. I mean, some things must stay the same, don't you think. Anyway, I just read that Vogue US has the largest # of paid advertisers ever. Big hug.....

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Well, I read blogs of course. But I still read books with covers, still wait for my favourite magazines to arrive in my mailbox,and still pad down the drive in my white linen pajamas to retrieve the NY Times from the hydrangeas.

Anonymous said...

I want my magazines to be real as it is just too much trouble having to enlarge everything on a Nook or Kindle with each page turned. I also want decorating books and other table books to be real so I can enjoy the pictures to the full extent. Other than that, the Nook suits me just fine.

MulticoloredPieces said...

Your post is excellent. After a stint at university teaching, I'm convinced literacy is changing because of technology, with both pros and cons. In Tunisia, when newspapers and magazines just printed drivel, internet filled the gap, and certainly contributed to the January revolution to get everyone on the same page. I put all my professional books on my computer--so much easier to travel with an entire library. And I find it's the text that counts and not really the feel of the pages in my hand.

Duchesse said...

We have many book,s but I buy no new ones, preferring the e-version. Magazines are carrier systems for ads; again, put them on an electronic platform.

The environmental gains caused by moving to an electronic platform are significant.

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