The One That’s Not About Paperholics

By Alexandria Harris

“Hello. My name is Alexandria, and I am a paperholic.”

Specifically paper hoarding–I just can’t throw them away. Also filing and the smell of paper…but the lack of paper (not my specific paper issues) is specifically what I’m trying to focus on.

A couple of things have happened in the world of digital readers and digital publishing.

First (and how important this is depends on if you own a Nook, Kindle, iPad or none of the above), the Kindle is $70.

*earth shattering silence ensues*

Get them while they’re hot (at this price). It’s always a relief to know I can wait to get technology at a lower price in a matter of months or a few years, or that I can attempt to avoid a mob beating on Black Friday.

People have differing opinions about paper vs. screen. The convenience of tablets, the feel and smell of paper, danger to eyes, and reading comprehension have been studied and questioned. Tablets and smartphones have boosted ebook sales and, one can argue, it actually promotes reading among people who just want literature at the tap of their fingers.

Another worry is that digital publishing can replace comic books. Although the interview I looked at was from 2009, so technically the comic book industry should be dead by now.

Reasons why that is not happening: Several movies based on comic books were released in the past two years, spawning renewed interest in comic book films, comic book fans are LOYAL. Some religiously go to ComicCon every year, spend a couple days camping out at their favorite movie career, and enjoy walking down the street dressed as Mr. Fantastic, not caring who sees them.

Some newspapers and magazines have survived the paper apocalypse by using hybrid methods-separating websites into free and paid sections (the New York Times is a prime example), utilizing social media more and expanding marketing departments, or incorporating soft news into their hard news regimen.

Secondly, Barnes & Noble’s new PubIt! system seems to be picking up speed. I’m unsure why the exclamation point is necessary, but perhaps it makes potential consumers more inclined to use it. Christine Rose does a fantastic job of explaining exactly what PubIt! is, but for those who aren’t familiar, I’ll recap.

PubIt! has been around since 2010, but many people haven’t heard about it. The reason is probably because Amazon was so far ahead in the digital publishing arena, that Barnes & Noble needed some extra time to come up with a viable solution. Otherwise it would’ve been like David going up against Goliath, and hitting himself in the face with his slingshot.

The same goes for the Kindle vs. Nook debate. As Rose notes in her post, Amazon came out ahead once more. The other factor here is pricing and the fact that since Amazon has more resources and diversity across its products, it could offer more to authors in terms of digital publishing. The same also goes for its Kindle pricing.

I’m in group C (sans Kindle and Nook, tactile & olfactory paper lover) but the day may come when some doctor discovers that loving the smell of paper so much is an addiction or causes cancer; then I’ll have to convert.

Alexandria Harris is a writer and former reporter on WSUM 91.7. When she isn’t watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, she tweets regularly as @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Racing to the Bottom: Gen Y Edition

By John Winn

As Brennon so thoughtfully pointed out today, ambitious young people (read: aspiring journalists) hoping to break into their field have run into some difficulty for some time.  The industry as a whole is rebounding, but one thing is dead certain: Gen Y is moving away from traditional print media as a career. It isn’t only aspiring journos running into trouble, so it’s worth it to look at Generation Y from the bottom rung: the entry-level job.

In the past, the words ‘drudgery’ and ‘work’ didn’t often go together in the minds of 18-29 year-olds. A booming economy, access to luxury goods, and the idea of a certain lifestyle fostered by shows like The Hills and Laguna Beach created the impression that if Joe or (increasingly) Joanna American was young, smart and witty that a dream job was in the offing.  This also coincided with a shift from a manufacuring to a knowledge-based economy, which influenced in no small part apiring journos’ dreams of becoming the next Arianna Huffington or David Pogue.

That dream is more or less over.  For those wealthy enough, or just lucky enough to grow up a few short years before the crash of 2008, scaling back simply means packing their bags and going to Europe, or taking on an internship at their dad’s-best-friend’s-newspaper-cum-website. Yet for the rest of us, it means the dreaded S-word: Settling.

 Not surprisingly, this has created some resentment not just among the generations, but within them as well.  It cuts across nationalities and classes, and is one of the main reasons why the OWS movement resonated with so many last year. Yet for many, just holding on to a job–any job–is considered enough of an achievement to brag about.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a crawfish plant or an auto dealership, aspring journos and non-journos alike are putting their dreams on hold sometimes permanently, telling themselves that they could come back to it later when the dust settles.

Like a lot of aspiring journos, writing and editing has been in my blood for some time. My brother works for Global Post.  My cousin writes press releases for a Montreal-based government relations company. Yet increasingly I count myself among those who have had their dreams deferred because of circumstances beyond my control.  A lot of my coworkers at the courier service where I work have had to do the same, and I know for a fact they won’t realize their dreams–ever.  I find my siblings’ obliviousness offensive, and resent their humblebragging in equal measure. I resent the talking heads and personalities who told us we were special, that we were guaranteed some Shangri-La $80,000 career and McMansion on the side. They’ve never walked an hour in my shoes–or in my case, ten.   

I curse their bones to the dust.

To those who are struggling in this economy: I stand with you.  To those who don’t understand–who will never understand–I hope you never have to choose between the life you want, and the life you can afford.  But you will never face that dilemma, will you?

Social Media Coordinator (and managing editor) John Winn is Hennen’s Twitterer in Chief.  In addition to writing for Hennen’s, His work has been featured in A Twist of Noir, Lightning Flash, Racket Magazine, and plenty of other online magazines.  He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.