Quoted for Truth

by Patrick on July 8, 2009

“I’m sure that the digital medium could accomplish things in a novel that graphics or the written word could not, and THAT is where its innovation and interest lies for me. Not in its ability to replicate exactly what I might get in a book. And yet, that seems to be what developers of devices and digital formats are striving for at this point. They have yet to examine its possibilities as a medium.”  — Emily Pullen writing at the Skylight Books Blog.  Couldn’t agree more, Emily.  I will point out, for those interested, that there are people doing this, just not as books you can read on a reader, at the moment.

“My admittedly strange opinion is that we need to try harder with print. We can’t just give up on it. Inevitably there will be some loss of newspaper readership, but even that will stabilize. Not everyone wants all their news online. Do we all want to look at screens from 8am to 10pm? There’s room in the world for both online and paper. It doesn’t have to be zero-sum. I guess that’s one of the things that’s always frustrating to hear, that the rise of the Internet means the death of print. There’s always this zero-sum way of painting any given industry or trend, while the reality will be more nuanced. I think newspapers that adjust a bit will survive and still do great work. But we do need to give people reasons to pay money for the physical object. The landscape right now does require that we in the print world try harder. We have to think of the things that print does best, and do those things better than ever before. We need to use the paper, maximize the physical product.”  — Dave Eggers, on the life of print at The Rumpus. I think, in some way, that Pullen, in the first quote, is arguing for something similar to Eggers:  let print do what print does and let digital do what it does.  Don’t try to make them both do the same thing.  I remain skeptical about the future of newspapers, though, as factors beyond “people want the news on the internet” are contributing greatly to their downfall.  It’s simply a different world from the one where newspapers were essential.  (Eggers new book Zeitoun is out and the proceeds from it go to non-profits working in the New Orleans area.)