A friend pointed me to this the other day. Someone’s come up with a way for print to compete with e-books.
How? According to the report, they print the book in disappearing ink. Apparently that will FORCE the customer to read it quickly before their purchase becomes a worthless paperweight.
We have a saying about that in New Zealand. Yeah, right.
To me this is like bath towels for goldfish. For some of us, the pleasure of books includes having that tower unread by the bedside – in anticipation. To be savoured. Not gobbled down before it disappears.
Personally I think e-book and print publishing are both ways of the future. Together. Each has their own strengths. And one advantage a book has over any e-product, just now, is permanence. Books printed on acid-free paper last for centuries, if they’re properly stored. Dye-process DVD’s, magnetic media and silicon storage – well, the jury’s out, but signs are they’re only good for years or decades. In fact, the physics indicate that the denser your storage, the faster it decays (I just LURRRVE that Second Law of Thermodynamics). Then there’s that niggly issue of software to interpret the data.
Archivists have already learned the hard way that keeping computer data is a race against decaying media and changing standards. So we’ve already got ‘disappearing e-books’, if we’re not careful. Lost software can be fixed with talent and money. And science may offer answers to the storage physics as time goes on – but not just now (and you can’t beat thermodynamics, not ever - only hold it off locally with even more energy.) As for deliberately printing a book in disappearing ink? That’s just dumb. What do you think?
*** Don’t forget – if you want to win a copy of my new book Convicts – published by Penguin and signed by me – check out this contest. Runs until 28 July 2012.***
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012