I like the environment. I use it on a daily basis and often recommend it to my friends. The thing about the environment is that it directly affects me and it is something I can have a direct effect upon. Without having to nip someone’s head to put an end to human trafficking or the spread of AIDS, I can do something worthwhile every day. After a long delay our local council has now provided a collection service for recyclable paper, plastic and metal products (nothing for glass yet) and I’m very conscientious about recycling every scrap of paper down to the last bus ticket. I only print what I really need to and use e-mail wherever possible. The latter is easier said than done, so many businesses and agencies shy away from encouraging e-mail correspondence.
The big problem is I’m a writer and if there’s one thing a writer will do, given half a chance, is use up paper, reams and reams of the precious stuff, just to see stacks of his blasted book with garish ‘three-for-two’ stickers on their covers at the front of Waterstones or Borders. And in that regard I’m as guilty as the next writer.
My wife bought me an e-book reader a few years back, however, and I have to say I did like it. The issue I had with it was quite simple. I’m a stingy bugger. I rarely buy new books or DVDs or CDs (Pink Floyd would be the exception there) except as presents. How do you buy a used e-book, eh? I have an iPod-thingy too – again, thanks to my wife – but, to date, I’ve only downloaded three things that aren’t available on disk. Why? Have you seen my shelves with all the hundreds and hundreds of CDs and tapes? I like how they look, like little books. I like all my shelves full of books and DVDs too. And I doubt I’m going to change.
That said, there’s a new generation out there that is changing, that regard portable media players as de rigueur, just as I might have viewed the ghetto blaster back in the seventies. If the technology were cool enough, kids would start to look for books in that format. Just think of the impact J K Rowling could have had if she’d stopped chopping down rain forests and only issued her epic novels as e-books or DVDs or some other new fancy and cool (cool is so important here) format?
Okay, she could have still produced a fuddy-duddy grownup print version for the likes of me who are never, ever going to be cool. (I can do lukewarm on a good day).
Change will come. How often do you see a real book on Star Trek that’s not on a stand? And they have cool replicators. Old-fashioned values are all fine and good, but ‘value’ is the key word there. Will the next generation value books or knowledge? What’s a tree worth? I’m afraid I won’t be around long enough to find out.
Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense