To say that publishing is going through an upheaval is perhaps an understatement. But the movement from print to digital is not only changing the business models of book publishers, it is also changing what we actually read. When I first had The Kid I was looking forward to reading him some of my favorites from when I was a child, like Where the Wild Things Are, or some books I never got a chance to read like The Chronicles of Narnia. While books like these are still popular, I think there is a tremendous nostalgia for the printed word these days.
Two of the best examples of this are The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Lonely Book. In both these modern fables, books are imbued with feelings and emotions. Books are happiest when they are being read and taken care of or are on a bookshelf with other familiar titles or perhaps new ones whose stories they don’t know yet. Libraries are still an important part of the cultural fabric and books and ideas are something meant to be shared and celebrated.
The Fantastic Flying Books probably points the way to our future, as it is also a beautiful app and an award winning animated short and not simply a printed book. But will something be lost when all we have is a digital copy of our favorite book? In The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, books live forever. After the people pass on their stories are simply shared with a new generation. In The Lonely Book, books age with us and are part of the fabric of our lives. Pages can be lost or torn, but their value isn’t limited to the words they contain; the physical books themselves and all of their wear and tear help us remember different points in our own life. In short, our books and our lives are inextricably linked. A story can live on, but a book and its owner are linked together.
Anyone who has read a story to a child would probably agree that it isn’t simply what you read or how many times you read it, it’s also all of the ripped pages that were repaired with love that will take you back in time if you ever pick up that old copy of Goodnight Moon.