But I wasn’t surprised. For the last two years, I’ve been writing about the survival of print. Independent bookstores are flourishing, e-book sales are slowing, researchers are studying how we read more deeply in print, and college students — digital natives essentially born with email addresses — prefer print for serious reading.
It turns out that we are all, at our core, Luddites.
The latest proof: The front page of the Internet is publishing a book, on paper.
Reddit is collecting some of its best Ask Me Anything interviews — with Bill Gates, Waffle House workers, Spike Lee, nuclear missile operators — in a “beautiful coffee table book.” It’s 400 pages. It’s $35. (Yes, there’s an e-book version, too.)
What Reddit’s book says about the future of print seems pretty clear.
Even the most digitally inclined understand that there’s a permanence to paper that screens don’t have. You can put this collection on your coffee table and show your friends how sophisticated you are. (On the Metro, with a Kindle, nobody can see that you’re reading “Ulysses,” which sorta defeats the point of reading “Ulysses.”) A book like this is also just plain nice to flip through, with cool illustrations and fancy paper.
And then there’s the olfactory factor.
“I love the smell and owning the book makes my day,” a Redditor said about my used books story. Someone else replied: “Totally agree. The smell of paper books is something else.”
You can order a copy of the “Ask Me Anything” collection here. Mine is on its way. I’ll let you know how it smells.