The Smell of Paper
August 18, 2012 § 3 Comments
I won’t argue it – media is quickly turning paperless.
My hope is that it never goes 100% paperless. I realize all of the many advantages of forgoing the traditional paper forms of publication. I like to save trees just as much as the next guy. I also like to reduce the waste caused by all those old magazines and newspapers that sit in the corner; twice read and dusty. I’m a sensible person, for the most part.
Maybe its the fact that I stare at a computer screen all day that makes the idea of viewing magazines, perusing catalogues and reading books in the same way seem a bit like I’m never stepping away from my work. Instead, the same eye-blurring glow that I view all day while working, shines at my eyes while I’m relaxing. I can’t say I’m very fond of that idea.
I enjoy sitting with a hot cup of something while flipping through a catalogue. I dog-ear the pages with items I’m serious about. I also like the colorful pages of the two small quirky catalogues I buy Christmas gifts from each year. In fact, I save these catalogues. I take them with me, so I will have something enjoyable to look at while I wait for my daughter while she’s in dance class.
I also like being able to escape into the pages of a thick novel while curled in bed. With no glow from a computer screen, my eyes are nourished by the vitamins that feed my soul: ink and paper. There will never be anything that compares to the feeling of holding an entire story in my hands. I like its weight. I enjoy knowing I get to ride along with the characters for quite some time; evidenced by the hundreds of 6×9 sheets of bounded paper I’m blessed to hold in my hands.
I know these books are a chore to lug around. And I admit they’re no fun to carry while traveling. But nothing beats the sight of them on my bed as they patiently await my return. To me they signify something profound. I still have the first book that was given to me: Little Women. And that was the first book wherein the author’s name rested on the tip of my tongue just as prominently as did its title. I looked at the novel, printed in the late 1800’s, with amazement. Within my mind, Louisa May Alcott was equal to, if not greater than, any celebrity or rock star. Holding that novel in my hands, I knew I too wanted to be a great novelist.
From that day, my love affair with old novels and their author’s began. I cherish the fact that these novels, written when books were the main form of entertainment and escape, were written without a great deal of limitation regarding size. Now, a commercial publishing house dismisses a manuscript with more than 80,000 words as they’re too costly to print and, more importantly, they feel the readers of today’s world don’t want to pick up a book of that size. I was told, people want a quick read. That may be true of some. But if the story is good, that same reader will be sad when they turn the last page. If the author did their job well, the reader will be left wishing they had more time with the characters. And thus, a larger book.
I’m only 42 and yet I feel a bit old. I appreciate and welcome all of the advances technology has to offer. In fact, my book is also available as an e-book. If offering my book electronically enables more people to read it, and opens up the door to reaching a larger audience then I’m all for it. But in my soul, I dread the decline of printed media. I like greeting cards that come in the mail, and a stack of books next to my bed. If all I had was a candle, I could still jump into the lives that live in those books and run away for a while. Not to mention, the glorious smell of paper. And I like that.