Print Lives!

The first thing one notices about Print Is Dead is that it is, in fact, a stack of bound pieces of paper with words printed on them.  The author, Jeff Gomez, notes the irony of this in his Introduction.  On the other hand, the book is a shabby-looking volume that appears intentionally to violate the etiquette of the book-publishing format.  The author’s picture and byline appear on the inside front cover instead of on the back, and new chapters begin on the left-hand page.  However, the book’s true weaknesses are to be found on the printed pages.

In at least two places in the book, Gomez unintentionally undermines his prophecy.  He writes that,

to see where words are headed, simply follow the evolution of music’s various technological leaps from one format to another: wax cylinder, vinyl, eight track, cassette, compact disc, MiniDisc, MP3.

What Gomez fails to notice is that during the time that these innovations in audio technology have occurred, book production has remained essentially the same.  In fact, if one could bring Thomas Edison, who died in 1931, back to life and show him an iPod, it is doubtful that he would recognize the gadget as a descendant of his phonograph.  But bring Johannes Gutenberg, who died in 1468, back to life, and he would surely recognize a modern book as the product of his own invention.


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