Tuesday, March 8, 2011

what's your relationship with paper?

I've been busy with new characters romping in my head. Thinking about their likes and dislikes.

Thinking about my own.

Wondering how the technological age is going to change our relationship with books, and more specifically, paper.

Holding onto my Nana's old brown recipe book containing Depression-and WWII-era recipes, thinking how I pull up recipes online, how I don't know if I even NEED that subscription to Vegetarian Times, but I have a thing for paper. I'm actually allergic to cheap recycled papers like paper bag paper and cardboard. (This used to come in handy when people asked me to help them move. Now, half the people I know, pack in plastic bins...)

I remember when I first started looking for an agent: No one accepted email queries. Everything was paper. No one accepted electronic submissions. Everything was paper. Now it's the opposite. I'm all for saving trees, but I'm also a lover of paper. I write in all my favorite novels. I underline passages and dog-ear pages, and if I haven't mauled a book, chances are that I really didn't love it.

All that said, I just don't know how I feel about e-books and Kindles and Nooks, etc.

What do you think?

p. s. The "paperback" version of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors "drops" April 5th. ha ha... drops...


  1. I don't have a Kindle. I kind of think I will end up with one, but I have no actual desire at all. I love paper, too. I am even willing to put up with the horrid post-it ads stuck on to the front of the Times-Dispatch (they remove words, silly-putty-like, that are underneath) IF this means the revenue they generate will help the morning paper keep hitting my sidewalk at 5:00 a.m. I cannot even conceive of going to sleep without a book in my hand. The bathroom has a rotating selection of fine reading materials, from Nancy comic anthologies to The Handbook for Lightning Survivors to Garfield books to that crossword I hadn't quite finished. I too use recipes in my grandmother's hand, from the early 1900's. And yet I loathe and detest all the 'junk mail' and the advertising inserts and the pointless fliers. And while I abhor the pollution and the waste that paper media create, I probably am more concerned about the 'electronic pollution' that is directly aimed at my brain. So give me paper....newspapers, books, recipes, love notes....and I promise to recycle it. (and to cancel about 80% of the catalogs I receive.) Thanks for opening this discussion, Shel!

  2. I have a Nook and I struggled with making the decision to buy one. I have always loved the feel of a book in my hand. A new book is like candy to me. Since purchasing my Nook, I found a cover that actually makes it feel more like a book in my hand.
    What I love - I love that I can adjust the font size. I love that I can order a book (or check one out at the library) and tada! it's on my Nook. I love that I can put as many books as I want into my purse and they fit! I love that I can sample books before buying them. I love that I'm trying more styles, genres and authors than I normally would have when limited to paper copies. I love that I don't have a gazillion books in various stages of reading cluttering my nightstand. I love that I was able to name my Nook - Edgar A. Poe.
    What I miss - I miss sliding my hand over a beautiful book cover. I miss handing a favorite book to a friend and telling her to enjoy it and then pass it on. I miss trips to the library and the bookstore.
    Ultimately, I'm glad to have Edgar.

  3. Late Generation X'er here. No deep seated affinity for parchment since I grew up with glowing screens. I swing both ways...I've always devoured the morning paper front to back, and I have tons of annotated books to prove I respect paper. However, I have a Sony Reader and its great, too. Instead of a car trunk full of arcane books, commentaries, collections, etc. that no one else cares about but me, I have a little silver PDA that I'm not embarrassed to whip out in public.

    More importantly, I'm in love with language which ever way I can get it. Its the pinging of words, the energy of a sentence, the thrust of a paragraph that gets my juices going. Like Jonathan Lethem says, the publishing industry shouldn't get freaked out by the inevitable push toward the Great Digital Beyond. Its not the death throes of a dying industry. Instead, its the birth pains of a new way doing things. People who otherwise wouldn't read are reading, and that's good news.