Thursday, March 1, 2012

The worst ink outlives the best memory

Gleambooks are real books, we print them, on paper.
But why did a technology startup decide to create physical books?

Surely in this day and age, it would be easier to create e-books? There would be no printing costs, no need for packaging, delivery would be instantaneous, with no postmen to pay, and each book could be shared with anyone, anywhere, digitally.  
In the age of the iPad, isn’t printing a book ludicrously archaic?

There is a Chinese proverb: “The worst ink outlives the best memory”.
In other words, if you want something to endure, write it down, because even the palest ink will last longer than our most treasured memories.

Because our memories are fallible, ephemeral.
How did you feel about your best school friend? Or that great person you worked alongside in your first job, every day for years? We remember their names, we’d recognise their faces, we know we shared some great times... but the details are getting hazy.

No one in our lives is permanent; people come and go, friends grow and change, some drift away slowly, others leave us suddenly. What record exists of the journey you shared? If only we’d written down how we felt.

Yet virtual text can fade too. All those messages on social networks we no longer visit, all those e-books on obsolete devices we no longer use. Interred deep within your inbox are poignant emails you’ll never read again, buried by the incessant influx of new happenings, their significance unnoticed, they lie dormant and forgotten.

But books age into antiques, not obsolescence. Books are mementos, souvenirs of stories enjoyed and ideas assimilated. They are artefacts, physical objects that share the same world as us. We invite them into our homes, and house them on bookshelves. We can touch them, smell their paper, and hear their pages rustle. Books engage our senses in a way that pixels can’t.

Today, March 1st is World Book Day, a celebration of the joy of books. 573 years on from Gutenberg’s movable type press, the printed page remains unique, it is the medium of permanence.

And so we chose to create gleambooks using ink and paper, because they are keepsakes. Gleambooks are souvenirs of a journey you share with those closest to you. 
Preserved, in perpetuity, in ink.

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