There has been a tennis match going on for some time now between those that think the printed word is dead and those who firmly believe that spending $50 – $200 on a gadget that gives you the privilege of spending more money on something to read is a little wacky. We guess you know what side we’re on.
Of course, all that multi-media, tablety stuff aside, e-readers are very attractive. You can add multiple novels and read them whenever you like without carrying a bunch of physical books around. More importantly, you have access to writings that you might not otherwise. Websites like Smashwords regularly publish short stories and novellas that will never see physical form. Often these are free to read, or at least very well priced, and just a quick download away. But the printed word still offers intangibles that the digital realm may never be able to capture.
This is where Whisky Magazine comes in, because they got us thinking about why we hope the printed word will continue without being relegated to a position of nostalgia on our shelves at home. Strangely enough, this had nothing to do with whisky. But if it helps, I downed a dram of Buffalo Trace while I wrote this.
As a self-describe whisky anorak, we here at MojoFiction often peruse the pages of the handful of whisky related magazines available. One of them is, quite literally, Whisky Magazine. For their July 2013 issue, they have redesigned their magazine. It’s not a complete revamp, but a noticeable change nonetheless. The very first page contains a letter from the editor explaining the redesign:
“The redesign, both in looks (sharper and cleaner) and feel (extra pages and heavier paper stock), is our marker in the sand of a revolution that is quietly taking place at news stands around the world. This transformation is seen as almost a backlash to the realm of digital media. Small, independent publishing houses are taking the printed word to a higher level, making a magazine more desirable, something to keep and refer back to when you want. We decided it was time to look at what we do and take it into another dimension.
“…There is nothing finer than when a decent sized magazine hits the mat with some noise, then slowly opening the cover, the smell of printer’s ink and fresh pages. It is one of those moments for me when the world stands still.”
Did the world stand still when we opened the magazine? Maybe. But regardless, we have to agree with the editor. Whisky Magazine looks sharp and feels, well … real. The large-format, matte finish showcases crystal clear, professional photography, with colors that shine on the page. The internal layout, especially the redesigned tastings section, give the pages a natural flow that enhances reading with well-placed photographs and smart text font and color choices. The whole thing manages to encompass it’s own little world from cover to cover. Naturally, any magazine or book is only as good as the written content, but we’ll leave that debate for another day (we think the writing in Whisky Magazine is pretty darn good). The point is, the magazine showcases, in our opinion, the best of what a printed magazine can. And it doesn’t have to be squished into seven inches.
What does this tell us about print vs. digital?
When you turn off your e-reader, your content ceases to exists. If your device melts down your novels disappear into the ether. You could have a philosophical debate about whether they actually existed at all (which could be fun…). As for cloud storage, it’s still a hard drive – no good without a connecting device. But a book you can pick up anywhere, and you don’t have to close it before the plane takes off. A book that’s just lying around can catch your attention. An e-reader, unless you plan on stealing it, doesn’t do anything for you unless you start fiddling with it. But these are small things. Here’s what we really think gives print the edge.
Don’t think it’s possible for a book to generate its own aura?
We picked up The Strain at the bookstore mostly based on the cover (we’re not usually into vampire stories). The picture looks fine online, but in the bookstore, that jet black cover with that one bright yellow eye staring out at us really freaked us out. That book owned the shelf through pure malevolence.
Ever asked a complete stranger about the book they were reading? You probably noticed the cover and you always wanted to read it, but you were never sure if it was any good. Or you read it and really wanted to discuss it with someone. We have. It’s a great way to start up a conversation. Sometimes you meet someone you like that way and it makes the train ride into work a little more pleasant, or the coffee shop a little more home-like.
Ever ask a complete stranger glued to their tablet what they’re reading? We haven’t.
Maybe we’re getting too fancy with that word, but, with the exception of photos, can you think of any data files you ever stored away for future use by your kids? But you probably have some physical books that you want your kids, or your friends, or other family to read down the road, so you hold on to them. A Gutenberg bible is worth millions of dollars. A Gutenberg download is, like, 10 bucks.
Do we even need to elaborate? Do you want authors signing your Kindle? Do you want to hear an author speak via podcast or in person? We rarely find those hidden gems by browsing online. But at the bookstore? All the time.
And they serve coffee there, too.
Now if we could somehow get them to serve whisky…