Van Gogh wrote, “Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.”
Paper has never been a substitute for the real thing but it is a way of recording it and allowing it to be shared with the world. So are high tech advancements.
Recently we are seeing the demise of the printed catalog, the daily newspaper, books, and direct mail, as well as many forms of traditional advertising which coupled with the economic downturn has made it a rough go for printers, the descendents of Ben Franklin’s tradition of the printed word.
Likewise, the market for recyclables has been hurt as well. So I do have an agenda. But consider the never ending market for tissue and toilet paper and paper towels which is where your recyclables normally end up.
I would like to make the case for a hybrid society that uses technology but also understands the uniqueness of a hard document. It is secure. It is far more transportable and durable in many ways such as the book on the back of your toilet, the soft cover you carry to the beach, the newspaper that you are not afraid to drip a little coffee on, and the magazine or catalog you can’t wait to run to the mailbox and retrieve. There is certain childlike and beautiful about that I think.
I visit hundreds of small and mid-sized printers every year. Many are family businesses and employees work at these companies for their entire career. Please keep buying newspapers. Keep those catalogs and magazines coming and cherish the art of advertising which says so much about our culture. I have an abundance of old luggage stickers and old magazine covers around my office because what I am is a direct result of what others have done.
I love my computer and my iPhone and I use a navigation system, but I carry an Atlas and I work the NY Times crossword with glee and I believe that there is room enough for the past and the future in my present. Long live Paper!