Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Newspapers and Magazines ~ My Sunday Column

Call me old fashion, but I like to read books, newspapers, and magazines. I’m not talking about reading on a computer screen or some new fangled electronic gadget but the real thing. I don’t think I’m in the minority here.

When I’m out of town and don’t have access to the Daily Mountain Eagle, I will call it up on my laptop computer and check the local headlines and obits, but when I’m home, I’m trotting down to the paper box at day break and fetching the paper.

I like the smell of ink and the feel of the newspaper in my hands. The crinkling sound it makes when you turn a page is oddly comforting to me.

No Sunday morning would be complete without a hot cup of coffee and the morning news – it’s one of life’s little pleasures. It wouldn’t be the same with an electronic gadget on my lap. Then there’s my wife. She loves reading the paper as much as I do. The way we handle it is she reads the headlines and the front section then passes it to me, and moves on to the next section. She’s a fast reader so the delay is tolerable.

If we were to read the paper on one of those gadgets, how would we divide it up? I can promise you there would be a hassle. I’d wind up in the doghouse ignorant of what’s going on that day in our community and the world.

Who knows what would happen if we spilled coffee on that contraption like we sometimes do with a newspaper. I don’t even want to talk about trying to cut out coupons.

An entire wall of our great-room has book shelves full of books of all kinds. We have the classics, like War and Peace, Catcher in the Rye, Atlas Shrugged, and works by Dickens, Shakespeare, Vonnegut, Frost and Twain. We also have shelves dedicated to gardening, philosophy, religion, geography, modern fiction, and self-help books.

Sometimes when I have writer’s block and need inspiration, I’ll go over and randomly pick a book from the shelf to read. Nine times out of ten, I’ll get an idea and the writer’s block blows away like dust in the wind — as the old song goes.

You can find a lot of good information on the Internet, but when I need inspiration, even a simple search on say Shakespeare the writer, will bring up Shakespeare fishing equipment and then my mind is off floating down the Warrior River in a boat, casting in the reeds for a trophy bass.

And if I ever glance at my email or Facebook, WOOSH! That’s the sound of a pound of sand passing through the hourglass of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is a vital tool in my line of work, but I’m just saying it provides too many distractions when I’m trying to focus. That’s not an issue with books.

Recently when I attended the Tallulah Bankhead Birthday Party at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center several people stopped me to say how much they enjoyed reading my column in the paper (Note to self, I need to ask the boss for a raise). During a conversation with two ladies there, one said she read the newspaper, but the other said she read my column online. Two people, with two preferences.

Amazon.com, the mammoth online book retailer reported late last year that for the first time in history, online Christmas sales surpassed physical books. I realize the popularity of electronic books, newspapers and magazines is growing exponentially.

There may come a time in the distant future where resources become scarce and the cost of handling physical books and papers is too high for publishers to make money, but until then, just leave me with my trusty newspapers and dusty old books with highlighted passages, and dog-eared pages.

If that makes me old fashion, then so be it — but I think I have a lot of company.


  1. You are not alone! I love to read and there is nothing better than the heft of a good hardback or the portable convenience of a paperback. I've tried reading on a Kindle and it's just not the same -- you can't dog-ear pages you want to go back to and the damn thing runs out of batteries, my books NEVER do that!

  2. Well, as they say in the South, "I'm both fer ya and agin ya."

    I do love my daily newspaper, and can hardly begin the day without it. I clip ariticles and mail them to kids or cousins, or just about anyone that I think could benefit from whatever tidbit I have just assimilated.

    While here in N.C. I have been reading the USA Today, because that is what the hotel provides. Darned near went into withdrawal on Sat. and Sun. as they only publish on Fridays for the whole weekend. (Fortunately they had a special 25 page section on the Super Bowl and that tided me over until Monday.)

    So in that regard - "I'm fer ya."

    But I must 'fess up - I own a Kindle and I like it too. It has probably helped me avoid back surgery from lugging around 50 lbs of books every time I am on the road. So there "I'm agin ya."

    But handicappin' in what makes horse racin' - have a good one - Marsha

  3. I couldn't agree with you more Rick. There's something about the smell and feel of the paper. I know it's about trees and all that but I think of ancient books that are still available to see and touch. How do you do that 100 years from now when it's all ebooks?

  4. I don't know, I don't have an e-reader yet, but I look forward to it. I'm not into messy ink on my hands. But I am going to miss the community of readers that come together over the printed words. From sharing a paper, to visiting a library, all that seems to go away with the advent of e-books.

  5. I agree! I've avoided getting a kindle all this time because I just like the feel of a book. The crack of a new spine, the smell of a bookstore - it can't be replaced.
    And how do you highlight important passages on an E reader? And I like to see full book shelves!
    And my first real writing job was at a small weekly newspaper where we actually had to lay out the paper on a grid! Remember the smell of the ink?

  6. I will fly the flag for print books and newspapers and mags until my last breath darn it!!!!! I think kindle and such like have a place in the reading and publishing world but they just cannot and shouldn't replace the paper ones, I really dread the day if this ever happens! Take care

  7. Well if you are old fashion then I'm older than dirt. Besides with all the reading on these new gadgets I have to wonder if we are not creating a generation that in a few years will be suffering from eye problems.

    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

    PS I'll be checking that column out :)

  8. The Arizona Republic has gone to thinner paper and lower cost ink. If the pages get any thinner, we won't need to turn the page to see what's on the back. Shirley wears rubber gloves because the new ink causes hives. I'm in between as I like books, but have just started to use a Kindle. It saves running to the local library so often. And right now I have 4 books checked out.

  9. Good discussion. It sounds like many of you agree and prefer physical books and papers, but some of you are embracing new technology.
    I can read the writing on the wall. A huge advantage of eReaders is portability. As Marsha says, you have access to your library without having to wag an extra suitcase for books when you travel.
    Another advantage is the availability of underlying content. If you're reading a newspaper, you can look at a picture or read more of the story or references.
    I can see both sides.
    Thanks all for your thoughts.

  10. Count me in old fashioned people too :) There is nothing better than smell and touch of paper. Besides, I find it difficult to read long texts on a screen.
    I even prefer sending a letter than an email :)

  11. i keep resisting buying an ebook--I may have to break down and do it as I plan to spend 4 months traveling and it seems like a way to go a little lighter is to take an Kindle or Nook. Good column!

  12. I DO love my books and my newspapers. My house is overrun with the books, though. I've run out of space and bookshelves for them all and had to pack some of them away. I enjoy the feel of the newspaper in my hands every morning with my coffee, as you do!

    But I confess to having a NOOK. And I do love it. I have a lot of books on there now that I would not have room for at home. The only drawback is I'm always tempted to get online and order more, more, more! :)

    By the way, I LOVE your blog! Your stories, your writing...so glad to have found you...


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