Earning the right to be printed

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Designer Frank Chimero says books now have to earn their right to be printed on paper:

I want to see things earn the privilege to be objects. If we have the option of things being “real” and “not real,” I want the real stuff to be really good. I want the times when ink hits paper to always be beautiful, useful, and desirable. It seems like such a shame to cut down a tree to print this Land’s End catalog, with the thin model coyly smiling at me on the back in her awkward swimsuit. I bet it bunches up in the wrong spots. It seems silly to give permanence to a thing that was meant to be ephemeral to begin with. This goes for junk mail, beach-books, handouts for students, whatever. If your shelf-life is shorter than forever and ever amen, I think we need to think about whether or not it needs to be printed.

I don't necessarily like the implication that something published digitally is less worthy, but he makes a good point later about content. The paper copy serves one purpose as an art object, the content serves another as information:

If I’m thinking as a normal consumer, I don’t really care terribly much about what the future of ink on paper is going to be. I care about what the future of content is going to be. I want fuller, more thoughtful, more substantial, more enriching, more nourishing content. I want good stuff. I want stuff that doesn’t feel like a chew toy. I’d suppose that the only people who care about the future of ink on paper are the people who make their money (or not) selling the paper that has the ink on it. (Or if your magazine is named PRINT.) Those of us who consume the content, I’d suppose, don’t give much of a rat’s ass. We want convenience and access, and then after that quality.

(via @R_Nash)