06 July 2008

The power of paper

We've heard it before. Paper will go the way of the dinosaurs, librarians will be out of jobs, and computers will rule the world! But paper is still around. Books are still printed. Paper hasn't left us and still seems to be going strong in some areas. Here are my reasons why paper, including paper books, won't ever completely leave us.

Why paper just won't go away.
  • A love letter written or received from someone special. It's opened multiple times and carefully refolded to preserve the words written within. And if the day is just right, sometimes you can even catch a scent that reminds you of that person and of that time, even if the relationship is long gone.
  • A letter from those that have left our lives for whatever reason. Friends, family, loved ones. With each tracing of the letters and words written, you feel that they are once again next to you. The letters slowly yellow with age, yet they still feel strong.
  • The "feel" as you write a letter. The scratch of the pen or pencil on the paper. Thoughts and feelings poured into it for the world to read, by the way you write certain words.
  • The A on that big project in school. We run in and show it off and its hung ever so carefully on the refrigerator a source of pride to show off to whoever comes in.
  • Showing off how far you've gotten in a book, by where the bookmark is. A source of pride when you get to those first chapter books.
  • Showing off your love for a book, not because of the pristine condition and how "new" the book looks, but because of how the cover has nearly fallen off from reading it so often
  • The smell and feel of cracking open the binding of a new book for that first good read and wondering what adventure or knowledge lies ahead.
  • Finding comfort in a book that has traveled the world with you. Its pages dogeared so often that they've almost fallen, but there's still comfort in the pages soft from so much use.
I'm not saying that e-books, e-paper, and e-mails don't have their purposes, but for me there's still comfort in holding that book. Or writing a letter with pen and paper. Sending a quick e-mail is great to catch up with someone, but e-mails never quite seem to carry the same weight as that written letter where you can tell who wrote it by the way they crossed their t's or dotted their i's or the fact that its virtually unreadable.

For over 2000 years we've put a writing instrument to paper to capture our thoughts and feelings for what happens around us. In over 2000 years paper has seen us through it all. It captures our imaginations and our lives. It may be lost to time when it gets wet or decays, but yet it still holds our fascination. Technology has taken the place of some of what paper once did, such as the spread of news and finding of resources, but paper still holds the soul of the writer.

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