Words, books, and craftsmanship

Ok, this video is 10 minutes long, and it’s in Japanese, so maybe you won’t want to watch it. But putting a little time and effort into it kind of goes along with the theme of this post.

The video shows the work of an old craftsman who uses old tools to restore old books:

Craftsmanship and value

I don’t know if people really value books anymore. Maybe that’s because it’s so easy now to create books. Anyone can upload photos and order a customized coffee-table book. And independent authors cranked out nearly half a million self-published titles in 2013 (source: PublishersWeekly.com).

Will these books last? Will they be treasured like the ones this Japanese artisan works on?

I don’t know. This video is interesting to me because it reminds me that craftsmanship and value go hand in hand. I want to put as much craftsmanship into my content as this booksmith puts into the physical containers.

Physical and digital

Most of the words I write don’t end up in printed, glued, bound books that are carried around, dog-eared and broken-spined. Some do. And some exist in physical pieces like newsletters, reports, advertisements, and mailings. I have boxes of physical archives of published, printed pieces I’m proud of.

But increasingly my words exist mainly online—as blog posts, website pages, Facebook content, email drafts. Somehow this makes my work simultaneously permanent (because things exist forever on the internet) and fleeting (because the internet is constantly changing).

Easy and difficult

It may be much easier to publish and share ideas in this digital age. What’s difficult is making sure I have ideas worth sharing. And what’s perhaps more difficult is wordsmithing those ideas with the kind of craftsmanship that ensures they will be treasured—even if they never have a physical form.


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