Print vs. Digital – Part 1: Books
I’m not a consumer. I can go past gift shops, clothing stores, tourist attractions, appliance and electronic stores, house ware displays and furniture stores, a jeweler or a pet store without a sigh and without ever feeling like I missed out on something because I didn’t go inside to buy stuff.
However, I do have a weakness and that is books. I can’t pass a bookstore or a magazine rack without looking, touching and possibly purchasing something. Otherwise, I do feel like I’m missing out. Going past a bookstore and not looking inside makes me feel like I’m missing out on a great story, on a great adventure. If I pass a news stand, I need to look inside the Make Magazine, quickly read Help and Tips inside Macworld, and sometimes I end up buying the Variety or the Filmmaker or some other industry magazine.
To tell you the truth, my husband had me the moment I saw how many books he had all over his apartment, on the table, floor, desk and on self made shelves. Books tell so much about a person, they tell everything about their interest, their passion, their mind set, and their family past. When I go to a friends house, you will find me by the book shelf reading the books titles getting to know my friend without the exchange of words. Do they read novels or biographies? Crime of romance? Do they like hard cover or soft cover? Are the books new or old? Are they dusty, clean, do they have dog ears, marks, signatures? Do they have art books? What artists do they like? What type of art? Oh, books have so much to tell.
I don’t think there is such a thing as too many books and I don’t think at all that books are not sustainable. Sure, printing books means cutting trees and cutting trees has many consequences. But trees can always be replenished. We could plant the entire planet full of trees. Trees are always good to have and trees are a natural resource. Trees are cut down for toys, furniture, cutlery, for building materials, office supplies, clothes and yes, books. Trees or rather wood can be reused many times and when it’s life is over, it can be composted and mother nature will happily gulp up the nutrients of the wood or paper.
Now the new “green” concept behind reading are all these electronic gadgets, which is kind of not new, since we have been reading the news online and we are all blogging online and exchanging information is the quickest electronically, via phone, computer, text, etc. I’ve been reading news, blogs, event listings, etc. on line for many years now however, I disagree with the electronic book craze of Kindle, Alex, the Sony Reader or whatever new is coming to the market.
Electronics are bad for the environment, no matter how we look at it. There is metal, plastics, pvc, lamps, batteries, and many more elements that need to be separated and composed of properly when the life of the gadget has ended or when we get bored with it and we throw it in the trash. In US Households, only under 18% of electronics is disposed of properly. Lot of electronics are being shipped overseas to poorer countries, which means when those people are done with the product, they have nowhere to take it. We basically are just shipping our trash out of the US but no matter where we are on this planet, the waste that gets dumped improperly will end up leaking into our water systems and it will harm us all. Even if these electronics go to Africa, the water that the chemicals seep into is the same water that we drink here. The dirt that gets poisoned on some island is the same dirt that we walk on in the US. There is an effect to everything, no matter how far away it seems and we are obligated to take care of the planet not just in our back yard but everywhere on earth.
As much as these electronic gadgets are exciting and as much as they seem like the green choice of the new generation readers, they are bad for the environment. A book can desenegrate when thrown into the trash. A Kindle can’t. No worm will feed of it’s components, no ant will carry one back to it’s nest to feed the family with. A book can provide shelter or a nesting for an animal, Alex can’t because it would leak toxins. A book will remind your friends of last years book club gathering and your family will remember your 10th Birthday when they see the book that grandma gave you so long ago. The Sony Reader will be just a dusty piece of plastic decorating your shelf.
Real books are priceless and they are also good for your senses. The touch and the smell of a book can’t be duplicated. We need to feel and smell, especially in our profession as actors. All our senses need to be sharp and practiced.
I encourage you to go to a book fair and get a signed copy of any book. Go visit a used book store and find a book that has someones name written on it and find out who that person is. Go to a reading, form a book club, donate your books and get some sent to you from a friend overseas. Books are priceless and they have a tremendous impact on people, young and old, any nationality and any color.
After you read my column online, unplug and go read a real book. Books need to be touched, smelled, be slept on, be carried around and be gifted. Keep your books and move with them. Your kids and grand kids will have a blast reading them years from now and you will share memories with them that is priceless. And if you feel really guilty about buying books, plant a tree for every book you buy.
Enci is the publisher of the theatre site Bitter Lemons, the Co-Founder of the Bike Writers Collective, she’s on the board of Bikeside, on the Cyclists/LAPD Task Force, on the SAG Conservatory Committee, and she works with government entities to make Los Angeles more bike-friendly and bike-conscious.
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