IVP - Strangely Dim - Acid Free Forever?!? In Search of a Book Lover's Rallying Cry

October 15, 2012

Acid Free Forever?!? In Search of a Book Lover's Rallying Cry

A rant and broad appeal by David A. Zimmerman

How is it, twenty-some years now since the rise of digital music, that you can say "Viva Vinyl!" to a teenager and they'll know what you're talking about? Sure, you can show a kid a picture of a record or a record player, of an LP or a 45, and they'll stare blankly at you, but shout "Viva!" and wait for them to fill in the blank, and dollars to donuts they won't shout back "la Revolu├žion!" They'll shout "Vinyl!" in a defiant and self-congratulatory tone. You might even get a fist bump out of them.


For whatever reason, musical purists have been able to keep the dream of analog musical recordings alive long past their supposed time of death. Maybe some cabal of music snobs got their heads together early enough; maybe they played so many records backwards in search of satanic messages from their favorite rock bands that the march of progress through time ceased to have any power over them. Maybe there was enough fear of the rise of the machines, enough rage against said machines, in the zeitgeist that they were able to drop a needle on this anachronistic technology and keep it spinning. However it happened, you can still find LP records, still find 33-1/3 record players, still find people of all ages who prefer their music delivered via petroleum byproduct rather than bits and bytes. 

High time you took a lesson from this, all you literary purists out there. Enough waxing eloquent about the smell of books, the feel of bound pages, the utility of dog earing and whatnot. The early adopters of ebooks are far too busy and distracted by their tweets and pinterests to listen to you go on and on about it. You don't need odes and jeremiads; you need a rallying cry.

Trouble is, books don't lend themselves to rallying cries. "Acid Free Forever!" for example. What does it mean? It's an allusion to the industry standard that all books be printed using paper with a pH value of seven or greater, which extends the life of each printed book and the machines that make them. Acid-free books don't yellow the way really old books do; their pages don't get brittle the way really old paper does. But ask the average person on the street what "acid free" means and they'll be highly unlikely to talk about book manufacturing. They'll probably talk about drug rehab.

So, I'm at a loss, book purists. But at least I'm trying. And now I'm providing a forum. Take your best shot:

What's your rallying cry to keep print books alive? 
Posted by Dave Zimmerman at October 15, 2012 8:15 AM Bookmark and Share


Just spitballing here:

Fixate on the Folio!
Sic Semper TyrannEPUB!
Bite Back the Bytes!
Death to the Forest!
Stimulate, Don't Simulate!
Yo, Retina Displays--I'ma Let You Finish, but Books Have a Minimum Resolution of 1200dpi. 1200dpi!

OTOH, I've personally gone completely digital, both musically and literarily. So Sorry Codex--It's Time to Turn the Page.

Comment by: Mark Eddy Smith at October 15, 2012 9:37 AM

I like that "Death to the Forest!" one quite a lot, although any Kanye reference gets a bye to the next round with me.

How about "Team Paper!" Or "Make Mine Dog-Eared!" Or "Semper Charta!" Or "Carpe Liber Libri!"

Comment by: dave at October 15, 2012 9:41 AM

Team Paper!--Is that a Conan O'Brien or a Twilight reference?
Carpe Liber Libri! Enjoy the free book? I . . . like it.
A cautionary note, though, from Giles the Watcher: "Don't speak Latin in front of the books."

Comment by: Mark Eddy Smith at October 15, 2012 10:15 AM

How about this from Dunder Mifflin:

"If you don't buy paper, the trees win."

Comment by: Andy Le Peau at October 19, 2012 12:27 PM

Comments are closed for this entry.

Get Email Updates

You'll get an email whenever a new entry is posted to Strangely Dim

Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a writer and copyeditor on the communications team for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a founder of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs occasionally at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

Subscribe to Feeds