Recently I heard an interview with american author James Patterson and of how he was championing the good old ‘hold-in-the-hand’ paperback and the survival of the ‘Walk-in and smell’ bookshops. I must admit I love going into the bookshops and taking in the whiff of the neatly bound books and the crispness of the freshly shelved tomes. But it’s usually with a tinge of sadness that I go into the big retailers and, after a moment or two of swimming in the sometimes overwhelming current of choice, I start to feel for the bottom as I ponder the prices hidden neatly on the back of the books at the bottom left hand corner. You see I can’t help whipping my smart phone out and scanning the bar-code for the well known online retailer to tell me that I can get it for 50% or sometimes even 75% cheaper if I am willing to wait a while for it to be delivered to my home.
But now dear reader I don’t even have to do that. I can now take my smart device and after a few clicks I can make my choice, pay my money and have the digital version of my book within five minutes. I guess the reason I was entertaining that sad tinge I referred to earlier was that I like the process of the purchase and having the chunky book in my hand. But Hey! I’ll get over it…won’t I?
It is these very digital devices that I think Mr Patterson was decrying as he fights the good fight and in some cases provides grants for struggling independent bookshops. Good Fella.
I can see what he is doing and am willing to concede that it is certainly a noble path; to save our paperbacks. But I can’t deny I have mixed feelings about holding onto something that reaches far into our past and at the same time fending off what seems to be inevitable. Simply because this transition we are witnessing, this change of how the story is presented is out of our hands. One of Mr Patterson’s other goals is to champion the story getting read by more and more of our younger ones and it is those ones who will be making the choices of how they have the story delivered and presented.
Our children are being born into such a fast paced environment now that they are hitting the ground running. The technology and methods of lightening communication are in their hands. I believe that if it gets so bad that we end up withholding choices from the younger generations then it can only be a self serving venture, desperately clinging onto a past that has barely any relevance to the younger generations and in no way serves the progressing of the story.
If we are decided that the story is king then the responsibility ( if you decide to take it on) to harbour the story from natural decay and neglect should include eliminating any and all risk of withholding any means of telling the tale.
A story is a story is a story whether it is from the yellowing pages of a well turned down paperback or floated across a crackling camp fire.
Long live the STORY.