Is it me?

By Anita Jaynes on January 30, 2017

John Davies is a senior corporate partner at leading commercial law firm Thrings. Each month John addresses a topical news or business-related issue. This time John talks about his love of books.

Happy New Year folks – I hope 2017 brings you all health, happiness and prosperity.

As the New Year swept in, I was reflecting on what to write about this month and decided against the usual lookback on 2016 or the general discussion about resolutions for the coming year.

Instead I thought I’d touch on a subject which, I accept, could well attract cries of ‘Luddite’, ‘technophobe’ and ‘dinosaur’. (“Nothing new there, John”, I hear you say.)

I suspect that, like me, many of you received books in your Christmas stocking. Books! Remember them? I love books. I enjoy the journeys they take you on, I appreciate the lives you can live through someone else’s eyes, I soak up the wisdom, the facts and I love the silliness. In short, I love the content, most of the time. But that’s not the point.

When I say I love books, I also mean the actual physical book itself. I take comfort from it. The cover. The smell. The feel of the paper. The fonts. The crease you create down its spine as you travel across its pages. Turning those pages. I like the weight of a book and I enjoy its company. For me, the book I’m reading is a close friend. I said at the start that I might come across as a dinosaur. Why? Because I just don’t get the Kindle / tablet way of life, namely the taking away of words from the page and placing them perfectly on to a screen.

I understand. It makes complete sense. Why would you lug around a weighty, pulp-laden tome, when you can simply slip a sleek and shiny machine into your bag. It’s a machine that isn’t just one book – it’s got thousands of books, all in one place, all instantly accessible, and all ready lit. I get it.

My wife loves her Kindle, probably couldn’t live without it, but for me it’s missing something. It’s missing something intangible yet crucial. It lacks soul. It lacks history. It will never have the story that runs parallel to its paper-based counterpart. Whose book is it, who else has held it, where has it travelled, how did it get that coffee stain, why are the pages creased in certain places? The list goes on. A physical book has lived a little life of its own.

The electronic book has all the same words and it has the same story, but it hasn’t got the romance and it hasn’t got the heart……not for me at least. The electronic book is too easy, too clean, it’s sterile and it’s anodyne.

What do you think? Am I just stuck in the past, unable to embrace change, or do you agree?

And it’s not just books. What’s really interesting for me is the change in how more of us are holding our music collections. I’ve always been a little worried about my music library being a line of digital binary code and programming. Yes it’s there, but what happens if one day it isn’t?

I enjoy owning CDs, just as I enjoyed owning cassettes and vinyl records before them. I’m very interested to see that vinyl is making a comeback, but why? It’s an old technology. Some will argue that the sound isn’t as pure and it’s susceptible to wearing out……but it’s back and it’s growing. Why? History. Physicality. Romance. Soul. That’s why.

And on that note…..long live the LP, long live the book…and long live the dinosaur.

John Davies
e: jdavies@thrings.com
t: 01793 412634