I recently read an article about a book with disappearing ink. You can read about it here: “The Book That Can’t Wait”. I’ve pondered this concept for the past week, and I have to admit I understand why the publisher’s first print run sold out.
Let’s face it. I’m already writing less-than-permanent novels, as are many writers. I have no illusions about my creations, and I’m not sure many other writers should, either. If I look at the shelves of my library, I see my favorite authors. Anne McCaffrey, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling… I have some signed books from friends. I have a lot of poetry and folklore, some mythology, a few reference books. In short, I have sought my most permanent way of preserving the books I really care about.
My Kindle and Nook and iPad are a different story. They’re cluttered with anything that catches my fancy or needs to be read to keep up with my chosen genre. My books are on these devices. And you know what I’ve come to terms with?
One good EMP will wipe them all out.
When I first heard about The Book That Can’t Wait, I thought, “Oh my God, here I am fighting to get my books published, longing to have them in print, and these authors let a publisher put their stories into a book with vanishing ink? What’s wrong with them?” Now I sort of see their sacrifice as a show of solidarity with the rest of the changing publishing world.
So what’s the point? This is my take on it. If you think of the great post apocalyptic movies, a lot of them show a library somewhere. A library of printed books that are all that’s left of the literature of the world before. What books from today’s market will inhabit those shelves when so much of the “printed” word is electronic?
Or maybe the lesson is this: Read your e-books now. Who knows what will be left when the last Kindle is gone?