Knowledge, ideas, and news have always had a need to be shared and propagated to all those willing to receive. It has indeed come a long way from the first documented example of block printing in 888 AD. Of course, everyone knows about Gutenberg’s movable metal type invented in 1440, but not so much about Bi Sheng’s movable clay type four hundred years earlier in China. Needless to say, printing has revolutionized history and launched the age of information.
“With a real book, you feel as if your eyes are illuminating the pages, not the other way around.”
There’s something about “touching” information, feeling the medium, instead of simply seeing it, that’s so… human. And as long as we remain tangible beings, I think we’ll always find touching pleasurable. In fact, as the written and printed word have become less and less prevalent, they have become more romanticized. Receiving hand-written letters and postcards now means more than ever. A printed invitation now signifies a momentous occasion, a wedding perhaps, or some kind of “fancy” ceremony and receiving those invitations electronically is often seen as tacky or “of poor taste”. There’s even something about how a well designed flyer can inspire and can stop you from throwing them away, especially when it’s in your hands.
“In ‘IMs’ and text messages, grammar and punctuation are taken for granted for the expediency of forced acronyms…”
Certain documents seem to resist becoming electronic. Imagine receiving your diploma online, or your doctorate through a computer screen. Secure documents seem to thrive on having multiple levels of sense security. By that, I mean how passports, currency, and licences use texture to their advantage in creating a secure document. Not only would a counterfeiter have to make it look like the real thing, but also feel like, be as thick as, and maybe even smell like, the real thing. Fibers upon fibers, layers of papers and plastic, all combine to form a document that demands more than sight to discern.
“And as long as we remain tangible beings, we’ll always find touching pleasurable…”
A book in your hands, with its thin pages between your fingers and textured spine in your palm, is now, more than ever, seen as a delightful retreat– something irregular, something special. Marketers and Ad agencies will need to muster all their skills to make the phrase “curling up next to the fire with my e-book”, sound as romantic, cozy, and endearing as “curling up next to the fire with my favorite book”. No wonder the successful e-books are the ones that resemble real books. It’s not the fancy ones that make it, the simple ones, with a dull screen, and the “flippable pages” that make it. With a real book, you feel as if your eyes are illuminating the pages, not the other way around.
“In fact, as the written and printed word have become less and less prevalent, they have become more romanticized.”
This isn’t some shameless push for printing. No, this is a reminder that writing and printing takes time and thought, and should be cherished and preserved. It’s not often a hand written letter overflows with emotional, unfettered hate from it’s pages. If it did then it’s as intentional as it can get. What does happen often are emails being sent, poorly proofread, belching with emotional reaction, and lacking in thoughtful response. In “IMs” and text messages, grammar and punctuation are taken for granted for the expediency of forced acronyms and homonym-like alphanumeric substitutions. It duz nt have 2b dis way.
This is a reminder that printing is alive and well because we are human. That touching, feeling, sensing, will always be in demand. We love information. We need it. Information and all of its media, trappings, and merchandise, is a part of our lives and a part of our future. This is a reminder that printing and information still go hand in hand, a reminder that printing is information you can touch.