Midnight Pub

The value of text.


Working on a little (long) post for the main blog about the value of text. Why people don't want to pay $5 a month to read an email newsletter but will gladly pay $15 a quarter for a printed magazine (what few remain). How text placed online loses value because it's digital and freely replicated, compared to a paper volume that must be typeset, printed, and shipped. The only thing killing paper text is cost, however printing gives a text value. When news can be emailed/tweeted/streamed the instant it happens there is no point to the effort in printing it out for distribution, but, essays, stories, and valuable commentary on past events for sure carries more weight - things worth solidifying in print. Or is any text worth printing? Does no text have value? The barrier to entry for online publishing does not exist so long as the power is on at the local library.

Just making sure my thoughts are good and unjumbled before typing out all these bigger points. What do yall think?

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~abacushex wrote:

I have an old blog post on this topic from the attentional value side of things, about reading on paper vs. reading "online." A Kindle can hold more books than can fit in my house, but lack of a physical presence beyond that black slab of plastic is a weak link in remembering what's in my collection, what I'm currently reading, or even to remember to get back to it.

A book on my nightstand or desk is much more likely to get the proper continuity of attention, and triggers a greater engagement with the senses. Especially an old used book that may have seen it's third round through second-hand bookstores.

Despite what may be more economically and distributively efficient, it's just as with writing vs. typing, we are wired to have more of the mind engaged with the former. We value (not in the monetary sense but in how we relate to it) mediums with more presence.

~maya wrote (thread):

I mean, *do* people happily pay $15/qtr for a printed magazine?

Isn't technical knowledge a meaningful barrier to entry?

Should "value" solely be defined by amount people will pay for something? (cf. cultural impact, maybe)

In my mind, a lot of the value in text that's printed has to do with how I approach consuming print differently.

I handwrite letters to people that I also message online, and look forward to responses in both media. Does printed text feel more personal even when an artifact of mechanical reproduction?

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