Well, I would have guessed pixels, and I would have been wrong. The printed page seems to be rising from the paper ashes (no pun intended) and reclaiming some part of the reading market lost to the digital media in recent years. The American Booksellers Association counted 1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations in 2015, up from 1,410 in 1,660 locations five years ago. Publishers are once again investing in their infrastructure for print books.
Paperback sales rose by 8.4 peecent during the first five months of this year. Maybe we all need to be more sensorially engaged in the reading of a book than we would like to admit. Flipping through the pages, or perhaps even the different aromas of well-worn pages or freshly printed texts, are part of sensations of reading that we now miss. The printed words themselves may take us different places as we read, and maybe the relative permanence of the printed pages gives us some assurance that we can always visit there again whenever we wish.
Arguably the digital page can always be retrieved and personal comments and notations retained in the digital device of our choosing. And we can still share these observations and asides digitally across the Internet or even join the local Book Club, but still something seems to be missing. Maybe it’s that old human touch when someone hands you a book that they have enjoyed (with notations included) and shares that experience with you.