Reading, in the last few years, has changed dramatically. We, as a society, no longer read in the format in which we did, let’s say, 20 years ago. Everything now is via a computer, or an audio-book, or a Kindle. Now don’t get me wrong, these inventions are great for the avid reader who wants to read quickly on the go, while simultaneously checking their email and seeing what Kim Kardashian got up to during her day, but for people like me who enjoy the feel of a solid book and the smell of the pages, it’s an appalling travesty.
Not too long ago I took a trip into a charity shop with a friend, and I was shocked and ashamed to discover, how nearly 18 hundred books were there, with perfect back and covers. It was like walking into the greatest Waterstone’s in the world. The best part being, the books were all £1. Some fantastic books, books which I had seen in a Waterstone’s but 10 minutes before for around 10 times the price. I had a sudden realisation, that this place was the rotting, unpleasant graveyard of books. Essentially the orphanage which held on to Stephen King’s greatest literary masterpieces. It made me think of the future of books, I mean, if books are taking such a hit like this now, what will it be like in another 10 years? Will writing even exist? Or will we just point at things and grunt to signify our interest in them? Because if that’s the case, I would like to revoke my previous request to my medical proxy of being cryogenically frozen and brought back to life in the distant future.
I remember a time when reading a book on a bus made you look interesting and made people talk to each other. But now, if you are even seen reading anything, even and advert for a razor that will give you such a close shave that you will be missing the first 2 layers of skin from your face, you are shunned by society for being “un-interesting” and “snobby”. It isn’t snobby to be well-educated. The intellectually equipped used to be the high-flyers of society, prancing around giving advice and helping people using their incredible brain capacity as well as their respected insights. But judgement has snatched a bitter chunk of that accomplishment, it has made the people who were once deemed great suddenly appear to others as obnoxious antichrist’s that people despise for their interest in higher levels of education.
It’s not their fault though, reading just isn’t marketed in a way that makes people enjoy it anymore. The focus on education has also started to lower people’s’ view-points on what is important to read. It also isn’t helped by schools using books that people already have low expectations of and making the students read them a hundred times back and forth until their eyes bleed ink. Because after they have read a book in that format, and of such a dull topic, their expectations of books are lowered; and their judgements clouded. So the next time they hear the word book, it is followed by a whispered “For fuck’s sake” and a lot of groaning. This shouldn’t be the way at all.
Reading; is something that should be discovered and enjoyed. I agree that things like the iPad and the Amazon Kindle are changing people’s expectations for the better, and I admire that. But phasing out real books for something electronic and non-lasting is not the way to go.
I am dreading the future when there is an episode of Cash In The Attic where someone brings along a Kindle and says that they wish to sell their original print of Katie Price’s biography.
God help us all when that day arrives.