The paper you hold in your hands is a paper you hold in your hands for a reason. I’ve stated a determination to produce an online edition of The Syncopated Times which I would make available to subscribers (particularly overseas readers who pay an exorbitant amount to receive it by mail), but I am equally determined to publish a print edition far into the future. In fact, when a friend suggested it would be a blessing when I finally abandoned ink and wood cellulose, I replied that I would continue to print on dead trees if I had to chop them down myself.
The Syncopated Times is not a scholarly journal. It’s published primarily for the pleasure of its readers while conveying essential information regarding the world of jazz. To be pleasurable, its elements are arranged to present a pleasing view on the printed page. It’s not a delivery device for YouTube videos nor for ads that you must scroll past to arrive at the next paragraph. It does not beep and wink at you.
I heartily approve of blogs, and I’ve given away acres of free content in my relatively short career online. But the graphics and columns of print on a newspaper page are stuck fast, and were placed so for a reason. It’s an immutable, physical document—at least until it winds up under the parakeet.
Everything is ephemeral. I could back up every scrap of my digital content on the requisite hard drives, and there is no guarantee that what I saved would even be readable even a few years down the road. In fact, I’ve had to be resourceful to find programs to read files I wrote a decade ago. Newsprint does turn yellow and has an unfortunate tendency to crumble eventually. I don’t recommend hoarding it, though there’s much less opportunity these days to accumulate a Collier Brothers-style trove. But it’s stable and readable. . .for a while.
Aside from minor (self) justifications, and despite all compelling reasons why I should leap into and fully embrace my digital destiny (proprietary software permitting), I print The Syncopated Times on paper because I happen to like paper. I’ve shouted my head off on blogs, which for me was a near-guarantee of anonymity. I’ve dwelt on Facebook, which is precisely like The Algonquin Round Table with worse catering. It’s a wonderful place to have your jokes lifted so other people can pretend to be witty. Words on pixels may be The Future, but nothing ever compared to seeing my hard-wrought prose set in type on a page—even if botched by the editor.
Now I’m the editor, and I do the botching. Oh, yes. So there’s no way I’m about to relinquish my dear, dead trees just yet.