Print IS Dead (Well, To Some Of Us. OK: Me!)
Warren Ellis makes a case that he’s making a fine living from ink pressed onto paper. He also cites others doing the same.
This is true.
But only because The Thing has not yet appeared that will wipe all of that away.
The Thing could be the mythical iPod Air I’ve been bleating about for months now.
The Thing could be something no one has any idea is being developed right now.
The Thing could be a tree plague that makes paper prices tower over oil prices, thus forcing everything to move into eSpace.
The Thing could simply be the new way things are now working because of the Internet. I’d ask Ellis: Do you buy a daily printed newspaper? If not, why not? And don’t you see a trend inherent there?
For me, print is dead. Because I am old and cranky and sick of boxing, moving, and then unboxing books and books and books and books.
I have no emotional attachment to a printed object. At least not to any book object. It’s the words I want, not the stuff they’re being carried in.
Speaking of book objects, not one of them is even sacred. The Torah, the Bible, the Quran are all available in e versions. And once you’ve gone e with those, you never, ever want to go back to their p incarnations.
Ellis, at least, is working in a medium that is generally printed on X-sized paper. But what if it had always been done on Japanese Manga-sized paper? And in shades of gray instead of color? I suspect Sony Reader sales would have gone through the roof because it would have become the thing to read comics on. (There is some business in Manga on the Reader right now, though more needs to be done to develop that. As Paul Biba and Eleanor Randolph and I have pointed out, the entire Reader process is not painless.) This X-sized paper standard is also in effect in Ellis’s free webcomic, the wonderful FreakAngels. I’m certain that’s to accommodate a printed collection.
But what if Ellis had convinced his publisher (or himself) to do it differently, as a true e comic? In fact, with iPhone 3G sales still being a sales phenomenon, what if Ellis decided to pioneer a comics form for that device? (Right now FreakAngels is not amenable to tap-and-zoom per panel on an iPhone.) I think if he had done so, the sales might have convinced him that print is dead.
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