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August 11, 2009

Back to Vinyl!

Posted by admin

Last night I was watching the NBC Nightly News and their last story of the evening was about the return of vinyl records and how they are hot sellers in music stores. Yes, as publishing is working to digitize everything and e-reader commentary is in the publishing trades everyday, this was the wrap-up story on the news ---- how old-fashioned vinyl records are making a comeback.

A 25-year-old man was interviewed and he said, "I prefer vinyl 100%. I like records. It sounds like they are playing right in the room." Sales were up 89% in 2008 and they are on pace to be up even higher this year. Best Buy has vinyl back on the shelves and Radiohead's "In Rainbows" and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" were the hot sellers last year. Many labels are now releasing music simultaneously on CD and vinyl and Green Day is rereleasing their entire list on vinyl.

Around our house the shelves and shelves of vinyl records that my husband and I have accumulated through the years have been finding their way to the turntable as my sons play their favorite classic rock albums and tell me how much better the sound is --- and that is when they are listening to the older stuff that has not even been remastered. The remastered music with its crystal clear highs and lows is even more revered. Now both of them have loaded iPods and stacks of CDs, but more and more I find myself slipping vinyl back into album sleeves when I am picking up after them around the house.

So it got me to thinking about books. When I read a book I realize how much the feel of it in my hands matters. How I look at the page layout. How I realize that care and planning went into that as much as the writing and editing. I notice paper and as I fight the tug of reading glasses I note kerning. I confess that people talk about the smell of books and while I have read thousands of books the smell has not ever done anything for me. I guess I am missing the book-smelling gene. But I know that the page layout and look does matter. And that is just lost when I think about reading digitally.

I have yet to figure out how a digital book gets signed by an author. I am trying to figure out how you have a book festival when there is nothing to pick up right now. (Of course if you have a Kindle you are immediately downloading.)

As I write this I am looking at my shelves of books and I am fairly sure I would not flip through digital files quite the same way.

So as we race to the future, keep an eye on the vinyl trend, since I get the feeling that everything old may be new again. And books are a lot more portable than vinyl albums and they don't even need a turntable.