Have we lost our love for the printed word?

Picture of Taylor Alden

Taylor Alden

With the rise of social media and the internet meaning there is rarely any need to wait more than a second or two to retrieve information, it’s no wonder that print media is sometimes a little left out. However, there’s still a certain charm to the written word on a physical page that for many of us can’t be simply replaced by scrolling. When the eyes are tired of laptop and phone screen glare, the antidote quite often comes in a book or magazine shaped package.

2019 started with surprising promise for print confirming that in the U.K print book sales had risen for the fourth consecutive year. Now that we are reaching the close of 2019 it’s pertinent to consider what’s behind this success when so many have forecast print’s downfall. There are a number of reasons that there are so many of us still drawn to a more traditional form of reading and it’s partly physical. There’s an element of speed to the digital world that whilst exhilarating is sometimes hard to keep up with. We can all relate to the phenomenon of clicking on one link, only to find yourself two hours later 15 tabs open, knees deep into a google deep-dive with a few extra numbers on your twitter following count. The art of reading a print piece of media requires an entirely different headspace and often creates a rather more relaxing experience.

Maybe it’s in the page turning, this kind of methodical physical movement has a regulatory quality and is simply often a reminder to just breathe. Perhaps also it is a question of association. Social media and search engines remind me of some of my most analytical and curious moments. Nonetheless this approach isn’t the only reaction being noted.  We have become so inundated with information since the turn of the century and whilst some find themselves lost in the blackhole, many will now shy away from any additional steps needed to find out more. This has transpired to ‘read more’, ‘continue here’ and ‘see more’ links often being ignored.

Of course this kind of passivity also deters many when it comes to physical print but once this barrier has been crossed, reading the physical version of content involves a conscious decision to commit to the text, there is no option to exit or minimise the page.  Reading from a page reminds me of staying up past my bedtime flashlight held to a page turner, or having a slow prolonged Sunday breakfast poring over the newspaper.

The argument I’m making here is that there is clearly place for both in the hearts of any multi-dimensional word enthusiast. I adore the internet for bringing me an instant wealth of knowledge that could take hours in a library but I also love the printed word for bringing me entirely different reading experiences. I look forward to seeing what’s in store for both digital and media print as we enter into a new year and a new decade.