The Sunday Salon: Pondering Periodicals

When I was little, it was the glossy pages that appealed to me.

And the smell -perhaps I should call it the aroma, because that sounds so much sweeter – and the aroma of fresh ink on smooth glossy paper is sweet indeed.

So I sort of understand the mystique Travis Kurkowski is writing about in his essay (Dreaming about the Past: Is Online Publishing Permanent Enough?, Creative Nonfiction, Spring 2012), which discusses whether online publishing (i.e., blogging) is as satisfying as print publication (i.e., magazines/journals).

“A blog is not a magazine,” Kurkowski writes. “The online world is not the print world. The online world is loose, informal and constantly revisable; print is hard, largely formal and inherently static.”

I’ve been pondering the differences between the two, knowing for sure there are differences. Not that one is bad and the other is good – no such thing at all.

They are just different.

Reading blogs for me is like shopping at art fairs. I  meander all around first and then maybe I’ll go back to some of the more interesting booths and poke around in the jewelry or photography or hand-painted tiles with cute sayings on them. I never spend more than a few minutes, because most everything I need to see is right there within the tiny square footage of the artist’s tent. Perhaps the artist is hovering around, and we exchange a few words (a “comment”).

“So interesting!” I might say. “Very creative.” “Lovely.”

But magazines – at least the ones I regularly read – require more lengthy perusal. I fold my Newsweek in half and tuck it into my oversized purse to read while I linger over coffee at Panera, or to pass the time between classes when I’m accompanying at the middle school. During the summer, I keep a basket for magazines under my comfy chair on the back porch, and sometimes spend a hour with a glass of iced tea and an essay or short story from The Sun. I save up the More and Oprah magazines for plane rides, because they occupy me for the whole of those times when electronic devices are not permitted and provide just enough distraction from the noisy, cramped quarters.

Occasionally I might underline a particularly interesting sentence or passage. Save one to pass along to a friend. Tear out a page I want to keep in my idea file.

These are things you can do with magazines.

I think what Kurkowski is trying to remind us of is that print has a sense of permanence while digital is transient. Once those words are placed on the magazine page, they aren’t going anywhere. But online content can be eradicated from existence with the ease of an administrator’s key stroke.

Online publishing is certainly here to stay, and I’m glad about it. I enjoy my daily forays through the art fairs of the digital world.

But I still like the feel of those glossy pages under my fingers, the stunning photos in living color, and the sweet aroma of printer’s ink.

How about you? Do you think there’s an important difference between online periodicals and print?