Monthly Archives: April 2014

Is the Print Book Dead?

From http://www.Resurrection Print is dead. Long live print.

Mission: A publishing enterprise is more than a simple conduit between author and audience. We believe there is power in a physical book, and we seek to embrace the traditional spirit of print while still experimenting with the novelty of the future. We wholeheartedly subscribe to the notion that reading is not only sexy, it is also essential. At Resurrection House, we consider it a privilege to keep important things alive.
Resurrection House is a recently revived Northwest publisher of literary fantasy, sci-fi and their close relatives. The publisher (the human face of Resurrection House) is a favorite nephew of mine who is familiar with electronic publication as well as print. He is working to ensure the future of his preferred genre on the printed page. He knows there are challenges, but also rewards for producing the physical book.
When I was in Reykjavik recently, I asked two people at Iceland Review (published both in print and on the internet) what they think of the future of English book publishing. Their opinions are relevant as Iceland is the world’s most literate country with both the highest literacy rate and the most books read per capita.
If these writers are representative of the Icelandic publishing industry, they are not as optimistic as Resurrection House. The Icelandic writers point out the impact of the Smart Phone revolution. Iceland got its first radio station in 1930 they said, and as recently as 20 years ago had two only stations. Now Icelanders can receive 25,000 radio stations from all over the world via their phones – just one source of instant information and entertainment accessible via handheld electronic devices. They reminded me that there used to be 50,000 journalists in the United States just a few years ago. The number is now 35,000, with the number of newspapers shrinking and both publications and readers turning to electronic media.
They did say that ‘a good book (presumably meaning a well written product) will always be on paper’. Iceland Review editor and lead photographer, Páll Stefánsson, asserted that photography and art books will continue to find publication on paper, too. They both recommended electronic publication for less well-known authors, while seeking their audiences.
What do I think? When I look around, many more readers are holding books than Nooks or Kindles. Smart Phones are great for finding an instant answer, listening to tunes and playing small screen games – sometimes even for communicating with another human being. The publication of physical books may not be keeping pace with the growth of human population, but it is far from dead. At least I hope so. My book is mostly written and I know there are people out there waiting to turn its pages.

Sumardagurinn fyrsti

When I first traveled to Iceland in 2007, I was intrigued to learn that Icelanders had long found two seasons enough – summer and winter. It was the short summer with its very long days, and the long winter with very long nights that ruled the basic aspects of their lives. Summer (sumar) started in late April and winter (vetur) began in late October on their old calendar.

As a person who has lived most of her life in regions that feature – and appreciate – four seasons, the idea of two seasons seemed quite unusual. It seemed to signify a simpler way of life, but also one with a less complicated plant world. Certainly important features of the seasons of spring and autumn are the leaves that unfurl in spring, and color and fall off in autumn. The landscape in Iceland definitely turns green as the snow melts and temperatures warm. Leaves are not as important a component of that landscape as they are farther south.

Iceland officially adopted the twelve month Julian calendar when they accepted Christianity in 1000, and words for spring and autumn were added to their everyday vocabulary somewhere along the way. The Icelandic Weather Service currently identifies autumn with the months of October and November and spring with April and May. Despite this, Icelandic calendars continue to show the first day of summer on a Thursday late in April.

Recently my thoughts turned to Daylight Savings Time. This annual shift of the time by one hour happens twice a year. This has been happening in the United States since the end of World War I. In 2006 Daylight Savings was brought to its longest annual period, starting the second Sunday of March and ending the first weekend in November. Its start does not mean the beginning of summer, but I think that most of us consider it an indication of warmer weather on its way.

Daylight Savings Time and traditional Icelandic seasons: Isn’t it interesting that a minor shift in perspective can help us realize that what appears initially to be another culture’s strange practice is almost identical to a familiar part of our own?