Well, you could blow me over with a feather. This month 15 years ago (let me repeat to myself, 15 years ago!) we published our first issue of Good Reading.
It’s an odd feeling to think back to that time. I know it’s a cliché, but it actually doesn’t feel like 15 years have passed. But if you look through the first few issues and compare them to today’s issues, you’ll see that we’ve come a long way. And I can say with hand on heart that not once, ever, have I been bored or tired of publishing Good Reading. I really know how lucky I am to be doing what I love. And Good Reading has been very lucky to have had such passionate staff. This has been one of our biggest blessings.
They all care very much and, like you, have become my family’s extended family.
But the world keeps moving on, and although the advent of digital has not seen off the print issue of Good Reading, nor has it seen off the print book, as we see e-books sales plateauing out and the print book back on the up and up. I’d stake my reputation on the likelihood that print books will never die. I only have to ask any book lover if they read e-books on a tablet or other device to receive a passionate response in return. Some would say ‘NEVER!’ They can’t give up that tactile experience, knowing exactly where you’re up to and the pleasure of looking lovingly at books you’ve read as they rest on your bookshelves.
Other readers will respond with ‘ABSOLUTELY! They tell me that there is room for e-books in their lives, but they still buy and borrow print books as well. Many readers use e-books while travelling or for books they consider as quick reads and which they don’t necessarily want to keep. Rarely, though, do I find anyone who reads only e-books. If you love reading books, then you’ll be a sucker for at least some print editions.
And there’s still something special about a magazine arriving in the mail. Hearing a ding sound in your email is not quite the same as seeing the latest issue in your letterbox, opening it and flicking through to see what’s in store for you.
The rise in sales of the print book is something that fills me with glee. I love print books.And while I’m pretty well up to speed technically, I have never had the same experience when reading a book on an e-reader as I do with the real thing. So it’s clear which camp I am in. But if reading digitally works for you then I say great! They both have a place.
Somebody mentioned to me the other day the idea of a slow reading movement. Like the Slow Food movement, in which sustainable food is cooked slowly (as opposed to the rapid methods used in the fast food industry), we could also apply this more measured, low-speed approach to reading books – which might result in us enjoying them more and retaining more of what we read. When I think about my day – skimming over a zillion emails, reading snippets of books, glancing at back-page blurbs and short bits of writing for the magazines – by the time I get to the end of it and push the dog off my side of the bed, finally slide under the doona, plump up the pillows and let out a sigh, I find it hard to shut my mind off from the day’s events and concentrate on one story for a longer period of time.
I spend most days training my brain to race from one thing to another and then abruptly ask it to stop, relax and slowly absorb a 300-page novel. I struggle to concentrate and sometimes I find myself re-reading what I read the night before.
Thank you for the best 15 years of my life so far. I wish you all stacks of enormously pleasurable good reading.
And Baxter Superdog (work-life balance supervisor and security officer), who is very proficient at opening presents. But there’s no re-using the wrapping paper!