Paper or Plastic? Permanent or Temporary?

I read an interview in the UK Telegraph with Jonathan Frazen, author of Freedom. (This post is not an endorsement or rejection of Frazen or his work. I don’t know anything more about Mr. Frazen than what was written in this article.)

In it, he espoused the physical printed book and eschewed ebooks and digital media. When referencing consumers’ need for the latest technology, he said…

The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great ten years from now… I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been a part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change.

He goes on to speak of books as “permanent” and “unalterable.” Those were the words that caught my attention.

I have often said that I prefer written notes when I speak because they don’t crash ten seconds beforehand. And I have written on NoCamo about my preference for a physical copy of the Bible. In fact, I am drafting this post in my Moleskine.

But are these things permanent?

Is anything permanent?

I think you see where I’m going with this.

When Frazen speaks about the time, effort, editing, and cost of a printed book, I understand his point. If a manuscript is right the first time, it doesn’t need to be updated or manipulated. And once the book is printed, that option is not even available.

But I am well aware that things I produce have a finite shelf life. Should the Lord tary, I have no doubt that this blog and the Moleskine under my pen will be long gone 200 years from now. One is virtual; the other, physical. And, in the grand scheme of things, what I write doesn’t matter. There is worth in the proclaimation of an Almighty God, yes. There is value in the testimony of a follower of Christ, yes. But tangible value in a personal archive? No.

The works of man are as finite as man. The Word of God will last forver. But man’s creations? Not so much.

Please note: I am not anti-book, or anti-ebook. This post is about permanence.
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