Is there reason to feel a slight elevation in one’s hope for the future of the book? (In spite of Borders being on the verge of bankruptcy.) Is a real book still the best way to read real writing? Will electronic reading fade to background noise and stop being noticed? Is the recent explosion in sales of e-reading devices only emblematic of the new toy syndrome, and are they destined to go the way of VCR and 8-track tapes?
I don’t know. My Sage license is expired and I’m not allowed to make Sage predictions until it’s renewed.
These questions arose today because I was thinking about blogging and blogs, wondering if blogging is just the next new toy?
I have been a blogger (this one and a deceased previous one) for almost three years. I recently had a look at the cumulative statistics for this blog, and a graph of posts clearly depict the rise and fall pattern of my interest in it. But overall, that interest has declined steadily, and now, if I write anything at all, it is usually under duress … that is, guilt. Either there isn’t anything interesting enough to spend the time it takes to write about it, or I simply have better ways to spend my time.
Not just writing; also reading other blogs. Two years ago I followed regularly (checked by looking at my Google follow list) nearly thirty blogs. A year later it was eighteen. Now it is about ten, and two of those exist to review food, cafes, and restaurants in Buenos Aires, where I live. Of that number, half are rarely updated; although a year ago those blogs were active, with at least weekly updates. Of the blogs I still cling to, Nicole mostly just puts up links to other sites, Rose is on hiatus entirely, Court apparently has a life, Brad focuses all his energy on his creative work and finding a home for his novel, Ken abandoned blogging entirely … .
I used to have a look at Huffington Post everyday, using it as a news and features consolidator for stories most likely to interest me (although if I want more depth, I use the NY Times, CNN, and BBC), but over time I became tired of the sameness of a site like Huffington, and its phenomenal growth has killed its usefulness, beyond glancing over headlines to see if there’s something you want to read elsewhere. Once a post on a site gets thousands and thousands of comments, which are so slowly moderated as to be of no value at all, not even as entertainment, there’s no point in wasting time going there.
The older I get, the more clear it becomes that we live our lives in cycles and circles, and the things of our lives are like new Christmas toys in the hands of five-year-olds: the explosion of excitement hardly containable, the figuring out how the thing works, showing off with it to your pals, playing with it in ever more imaginative ways, then breaking it, then losing it … and it ends up in the historical trash heap of all broken and abandoned toys. Then something newer next Christmas.
I find it interesting that many readers, probably most serious readers, keep their books, even after they are read and maybe re-read. What is the value of bound pages with print after the words are read? Why do we keep books, put them on special shelves, often take one just to hold it, or thumb through those familiar and comfortable pages? Is it a satisfying feeling to put your Kindle, with its hundreds of”books” in the one flat little box, on a shelf and have it comfort you the way a wall of books can?
Eventually we will outgrow these new toys. Books will always be treasures for people who read.