How the internet took over the book, and then the book took over the internet.

One of the problems that digitalisation has brought is that not only can everyone down the pub have an opinion and express it, so everyone with a computer can also have an opinion and express it, as often and as loudly as he/she wants.

Which is fine in one sense, since you don’t have to read any of the nonsense that is spread across Twitter and the like, but it is not fine in the sense that with so many opinions around it can get quite hard to locate the viewpoints, ideas, and indeed factual statement that really do matter.

This situation has been made even worse by the fact that following the seemingly endless rise of the digital media, the newspapers (which were never that stable in terms of seeing the difference between fact and opinion, nor indeed very able at treating the facts as sacred) have themselves seen the internet as something to emulate, rather than the perfect example of how not to conduct a conversation or put forwards an opinion.

All this means that the average reader who is after facts and solid evidence has tended to see the printed word as the example of all that is reliable, while that which is on the internet is seen to be the opposite.

Hence books have not vanished from our shelves, and printed reports are as much in demand as ever.

And that, I guess, is why storage facilities such as ours still exist.  Would it matter if the first few hundred articles from an avid blogger on political affairs were lost when a hard drive failed?  Possibly not. Would it matter if a collection of printed articles was lost for all time? Probably yes.

That is also why growing numbers of people are taking work that they have published on line and re-publishing it in printed form – and then storing secure copies with ourselves.  

Storage facilities now often hold copies of the original typescript – the first version of a book that came off the computer – as well as a few unbound copies of the first edition.  Meanwhile most of the early editions of anything published on the internet have vanished, unmourned and unmissed.

The number of books in print rises, the number of wannabe authors rises, and more than ever people want to know that what they have created will outlive them.

Which in turn means, not only ensuring that one’s work is available somewhere well away from digital media, but also that it is in a safe place where it won’t be lost or destroyed.

If you have anything written that you want to keep for all time, I would urge you to print some copies and then store them with ourselves.