Are Books Printed With Disappearing Ink Really The Best Way To Make People Read Them?
from the bit-of-a-waste dept
As Techdirt has noted, the main threat to artists is not piracy, but obscurity -- the fact that few know they are creating interesting stuff. As passive consumers increasingly become creators themselves, and the competition increases, that's even more of an issue. For writers, there's a double problem: not only do people need to hear about a work, they also have to find the time to explore it once acquired, and that's often a challenge in our over-filled, stressed-out lives -- unless we're talking about haiku. Here's an unusual approach to encouraging people to find that time to read books:
El Libro que No Puede Esperar (The Book That Can't Wait) comes in a sealed package and as soon as you start to turn its pages, the ink begins to age... and fade. Readers have less than two months to tackle the tome before the text toddles off into the ether.
As a video made by the Argentinian publishers explains (embedded below), an anthology of new writing from Latin America was printed using this ink; the hope was that the sense of urgency imparted by the disappearing texts would encourage more people than usual to read the book and discover its authors.
It's a clever idea, but I have a couple of problems with it. One is that this seems like a waste of resources: a book is printed and bound, with all that this implies in terms of energy, but at the end you have only blank pages. Yes, you could write on them, but how many people would do that? Alternatively, you could recycle it, but that uses even more resources to produce basic paper pulp.
I'm also troubled by the pressure the vanishing ink implicitly puts on readers. The idea that you must finishing reading a book within a set time or otherwise you'll have lost the opportunity is hardly conducive to enjoyment. It smacks rather of the classroom, where teachers tell you to finish a book by a certain date, with the justification that the experience will be good for you.
It seems to me that a much better idea would be to give away representative works as ebooks -- with no pressure that they must be read by a certain date. There's minimal waste of resources, since electrons don't cost much to deliver. And best of all, if you really like the book, you can give a copy to your friends in order to share the pleasure (provided there's no stupid DRM to stop you.)
Surely that's the best way of encouraging people to read new authors -- or try out new creations in general: getting those who already enjoy something to pass it on to people they know with the powerful added ingredient of a personal recommendation. No clever tricks involving vanishing ink can compete with something as strong as that.