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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To Be or Not To Be (Influential)

By Alexandria Harris

It’s a good time to ponder existence because this past week has been slightly morbid. Only we’re not going to look at our own mortality–that has a tendency to scare people and we’re just starting to become friends (I hope).

Today the window closes on how much people are willing to hear depressing news, so I thought I’d take my chance. (If you’re wondering about the window I’m referring to, it is as follows: Monday you’re either depressed or overly positive; Tuesday is usually the worst day of the week because you’ve either sunk lower or lost your delusions, Wednesday is the middle of the week so you’re starting to climb the mountain; Thursday you’re embracing positivity and can see the light at the end of the tunnel; and Friday = FREE AT LAST).

Yesterday was especially morbid because it was the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. If you didn’t notice it by how many times they played Man in the Mirror on the radio, you probably heard it on the news. Since PYT is my favorite song (of his) I had it on repeat. At a point where I had entirely too much time on my hands, I had an entire choreographed dance to PYT and my family and friends frequently got together to do the Thriller dance.

However Nora Ephron’s passing may be more relevant to you. I found it relevant and I’m embarrassed to say I had no idea who she was until today because you can’t get away from her name on the Internet and she’s trending on Twitter.

For those who might have been like me (the majority of you who aren’t, humor me) Ephron’s work includes Silkwood, Heartburn, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and Julie and Julia. She was a writer, director, novelist, producer, and obviously multi-talented. Her work was able to reach across gender lines to be enjoyed by all. It’s also inspiring how she set the bar for women directors like Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, The Virgin Suicides), and other directors.

Basically she set the bar high for future female directors and novelists. It’s always sad when someone this talented and influential passes away, but there’s always a semblance of hope that the legacy they leave inspires people to great things. Her passing jump started my curiosity not just in her work, but to see who were the most influential writers today. As good timing would have it, The Daily Beast featured a slideshow list from Newsweek of columnists, bloggers, and writers who they believe are the most influential. Some I haven’t read, some I’ve obviously read, and others I’m not sure why they’re on the list. For those of you not visiting the link and for my news oriented people who care, I’ll list the ten below:

1. Ezra Klein, Wonk, The Washington Post
2. Robert Wright, Co-founder, Talkingheads.tv
3. Matt Yglesias, Blogger, Slate
4. Ross Douthat, Columnist, The New York Times
5. Arianna Huffington, Editor in Chief, The Huffington Post
6. Ed Morrissey, Blogger, Hot Air
7. Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo Blog
8. Glenn Greenwald, Writer, Salon
9. Jonathan Chait, Writer, New York Magazine
10. David Frum, Writer, The Daily Beast

And to continue my quest to be real, I’ve only been indirectly influenced by Arianna whose Huffington Post reach is a monolith threatening a world takeover. However, I’m young and pretty sure I’ll be forced to collide with the others’ work soon enough.

Jackson and Ephron left a powerful legacy. We are still being influenced by writers, bloggers, journalists today which shape how we view the world and the legacies we want to leave. Influence can be a powerful and dangerous thing.
It can also be life-changing.

Alexandria Harris is a writer and recent college graduate. When she isn’t writing, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, or working in her father’s company, she tweets regularly on her account @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin