Disappearing Artifacts

On a recent stroll in NYC, I walked by an apartment house and could see into a stranger’s window, where I saw records (vinyl LPs) and books.  Since I recognized the books and the recording artists, it gave me a glimpse into this person’s life: age, tastes, and even probable religion.

There was a time when I could get a sense of someone (or a couple, a family or business) just by a quick look at the artifacts in their home or office.  Records, books, wall maps, pictures, newspapers, all were very telling of someone’s personality.  The stereo, the radio (and station to which it was tuned), even the pots and pans in the kitchen, all were indicative of personality and in some cases also of the person’s ethnicity or background.

A record collection and a personal book library from yesteryear gave a deep insight into a person’s tastes.  Magazines, no matter where they were located: by the bed, on the living room table, or even in the bathroom, were glimpses into a person’s identity.  Most of these print copies are disappearing and are being replaced by digitally stored libraries or instruments on which they may be accessed.  A bedside Kindle or tablet is not the same as a stack of bedside books.  With the onset of digital storage and the internet, many traditional artifacts have disappeared altogether. 

Books, records, magazines, hard copy of newspapers, bank statements, bills, all disappearing.   Same goes for CDs and those collections of audio cassettes and VHS video tapes.  While this makes for less need for storage, it may also bring new meaning to the adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.”  Paper is conserved, but at what cost?

Changes in learning, living, observation and inference: are occurring in the evolution from the tangible to the digital. Learning and Presentation expert Dr. Annette Kramer discusses these issues in a Learning Laboratory blog post.

Cover art shifts from the visual and tactile sensation you get when you hold a books to graphics designed to be maximized on screen for digital viewing. Book marketing has morphed to mentions in a myriad of book reviews and blog posts, which some authors now pay for on Amazon.  Book marketing also means authors and publishers are using book buying services to give the impression that these books are really being bought and to pump up their sales numbers in order to achieve Top Ten status and give the perception of success.

In the new digitization of books, blog posts and shared links have become the new marketing currency. Maintaining a strong social media presence and the continued dynamic mentions for Findability (aka, “Googlejuice” or “Bing-a-ling”) becomes the necessary strategy for authors and their books to rise to the top of the heap.  Pinterest, Goodreads, and specialized category websites (for science fiction, spy novels, biographies, cookbooks, and so forth) have also increased in importance.

With the disappearance of traditional visual artifacts (hard copies, tangible, tactile) means authors and publishers of all types, ranging from scholars to storytellers, must adapt to an emerging marketplace and have a digital strategy in place to market their books. 


Dean Landsman

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