• Author:Ben Jones
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Holding and folding; there’s nothing like it

I am Apple’s idea of a good thing. With my colleagues at Team Jones, we own iPhones (we may be heading towards double figures over recent years), iPads (more than one generation!), iPods (yes, iPods!), Apple TV, a Mac desktop and a MacBook, which vies for favouritism with my golf clubs as my favourite possession. We are all about Apple. It’s more than an Apple a day for us.

This love affair has been going for some time and we see no reason to end it. The products are so easy to use, so reliable, so cool and so good to look at – they are a thing of beauty. These Apple products have been the vehicle we have used to navigate the world we love of books and newspapers; using the iPad Kindle, eBooks app and various news paper digital editions to facilitate our reading. I receive my daily editions of The New York Times and FT through the iPad and browse the Guardian and other news outlets through that gorgeous piece of kit. But recently our love affair with digital reading has hit the rocks and it doesn’t sound like we are alone. We may not be heading for divorce but we are certainly seeing other people.

It appears that books – you know those bits of paper bound together and sold in a shop or at Amazon – have been reasserting themselves and their sales have overtaken eBooks/Kindle sales after many years of decline. At the same time our reading patterns have changed too. We are back to buying the paper edition of The Sunday Times – my boycott of The Times continues (I was a digital subscriber until their disgraceful decision to not put the Hillsborough verdicts, 27 years in the waiting, on their front page). When buying the Racing Post – as today to study the Epsom form – I much prefer a paper copy. Our virtual library of books has closed, replaced by the real thing, with regular visits made to Southport’s Waterstones or parcels received in the post to keep stocks fresh.

Why have we and thousands of others taken this step? Why have we gone all retro? Why have we gone back to the old skool? For me, its about the experience. It’s about enjoyment. No matter how good the kindle is – and it is very, very good – and no matter how realistic the newspaper apps recreate the turning of the pages – there is nothing that can truly replicate the feeling of holding the newspaper or a book in your hand. The ability to see the whole thing in one go, to flick from page to page, to hold and fold the sections you want to read now or return to at the next sitting, is impossible to truly beat.

I love technology and, as we’ve established, I am owned by Apple, but I love the feeling of holding the words in my hand. I love the special connection between the writer and audience which the physical book or newspaper really gives you. I love the look and feel of a newspaper, especially a broadsheet or the Berliner size – there is a real skill – one we are sadly losing from society like mental arithmetic or handwriting- the latter of which I was and am hopeless at – of being able to fold the newspaper perfectly. On reflection, I think it should be included on the national curriculum, or at the very least be a test someone must pass before they can get a job or are allowed to get married.

At heart, although I love the idea of the technology, it has not yet caught up with the experience enjoyed by generations of putting a book or newspaper under your arm. It is more fun. More pleasurable. It was how it was meant to be; holding and folding.


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