Digital Vs. Print Media: My Rejected Article

So as you guys know, I got turned down for a literary magazine internship recently. As a part of the application, I was required to write an article based on another article in some sort of writing or publishing magazine. Since it doesn’t look like it’ll be getting published, I figured it’d be a shame to waste a perfectly good opinion piece. Below is the article I wrote, exactly as I sent it to my once potential employer. What do you guys think?

As the art of reading evolves, so does a nation of readers

In a recent Publisher’s Weekly article, resident blogger Josie Leavitt laments what appears to be the loss of the traditional reader. She notes a clear and, for her, intimidating swap of the conventional paper-bound book for its more modern cousin, the e-reader. But the article leaves one wondering: is this transition such a bad one?

Because although complaints about the digital age compromising the artistic value of print books have risen since the release of the e-reader, according to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, so have trends in reading.

Yes, despite what many die-hard book fans might argue, trends in reading have actually taken a turn for the better after decades of downward plummeting. This spike also coincidentally occurs around 2008, the same time as the release of the more popularized e-readers.

Moreover, these anti-digital complaints seem to stem from writers and readers who have developed an emotional attachment to books themselves, those who will be generally more saddened by the decrease in print books than those readers without attachment.

From a marketing standpoint, the rise of the e-reader has been the product of a miracle. If the years previous to the digital book reader had been experiencing significant decreases in readership, then the coming of new and easier technology for reading should logically be welcomed with open arms. And it has.

With ease of mobility and the thrill of “newness,” e-reading has been embraced by society as much as it has been by the business world. Users find themselves discovering a multitude of classic and contemporary literature never known to them before, a complete literary world opened before their eyes.

This new found interest in reading among the masses must force those opposed to reconsider their opinion. Though a writer might prefer their readers to enjoy the art that is their writing on the traditional page, is it not slightly more important that people are reading it at all? Consider the expansion of audience. Now, more people than ever can share in the writings of all types of authors, whether they prefer printed or digital books.

E-readers cannot be seen as the enemy of tangible books. They are simply another medium for the ideas of an artist. Even though canvas may be the medium of choice for a painter, he or she cannot deny the growing market for digital art, and neither can the writer.

Society may become accustomed to e-readers eventually, as they did for printed books, and perhaps the rise in reading may once again plummet. But the writing industry will inevitably be reborn with the invention of a new way of reading, because it is adaptable. The written word remains a valuable component of Western culture, but as cultures evolve, their art must evolve with them. Those who do not adapt will be long forgotten. I think most writers would agree that the preservation of their ideas is more important than the media on which they are expressed. Writing must evolve. Let the nation of E-Readers grow.

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10 thoughts on “Digital Vs. Print Media: My Rejected Article

  1. This is solid, LP. I see a handful of edits I would recommend, and will them if you would like. I think your point is particularly well-made in paragraph six. It’s also nice to see coherent and organized writing. IMO, this piece effectively exhibits your experience with college writing while indicating some evolution toward more sophisticated, professional quality work.

    • Absolutely! I would very much appreciate any recommendations you have to offer. I know my usual blogging isn’t as well thought out as this article is – with my busy schedule, I’ve had to sacrifice longer more quality posts for shorter more frequent posts. Help me out! What did I do wrong?

  2. [Ok, this may get a little long, and you can share or keep it for yourself, whichever you like:]

    In a recent Publisher’s Weekly article, resident blogger Josie Leavitt laments what appears to be the loss of the traditional reader. She notes a clear and, for her, intimidating swap of the conventional paper-bound book for its more modern cousin, the e-reader. But the article leaves one wondering: is this transition such a bad one?

    [You open up very well and set the theme of your discussion right off the bat. You mention, however, that the article in Publisher’s Weekly leaves one wondering whether the transition is such a bad one. This suggests that something in the article beyond the general premise leaves the reader with questions and that you are going to address the issues raised in the article. You never return to the article, however. Perhaps what you meant was that the “topic” raises the question – not the article itself.]

    Because although complaints about the digital age compromising the artistic value of print books have risen since the release of the e-reader, according to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, so have trends in reading.

    [This para begins “Because although . . .” which is confusing. “Although” is sufficient and solves the problem. You would also have been best served in terms of the internship if you had included the relevant stats from the NEA report (with citation). ]

    Yes, despite what many die-hard book fans might argue, trends in reading have actually taken a turn for the better after decades of downward plummeting. This spike also coincidentally occurs around 2008, the same time as the release of the more popularized e-readers.

    [Since 2008 happened in the past, your verb tense should be past in this sentence: “This spike also coincidentally ‘occurred’ around 2008 . . .” And again, the internship folks may have been looking for citations for your facts.]

    Moreover, these anti-digital complaints seem to stem from writers and readers who have developed an emotional attachment to books themselves, those who will be generally more saddened by the decrease in print books than those readers without attachment.

    [This is an overly complex sentence held together by a comma-splice. In other words, you use a comma to unnecessarily define further those who are sentimental about losing physical books, and then you tack on those on the other side of the issue almost as an afterthought. This makes the sentence awkward and unnecessarily long. Look at the difference in this edit: “Moreover, these anti-digital complaints seem to stem from writers and readers who have developed an emotional attachment to books themselves more than from those readers without the attachment.”]

    From a marketing standpoint, the rise of the e-reader has been the product of a miracle. If the years previous to the digital book reader had been experiencing significant decreases in readership, then the coming of new and easier technology for reading should logically be welcomed with open arms. And it has.

    [A couple of things here: the e-reader is a “product of a miracle” – what miracle is the e-reader a product of? Do you mean the e-reader is a miracle of technology that has increased a previously declining readership? You would also stand to benefit from reiterating how the coming of new technology has increased readership (instead of just inferring it from above). You also say that this technology should be welcomed with open arms – do you have some supporting documentation for that assertion? Finally, the para concludes with “And it has.” “And it has been” sounds better, or, “And it was” if we are going back to the last few years since e-readers first appeared.]

    With ease of mobility and the thrill of “newness,” e-reading has been embraced by society as much as it has been by the business world. Users find themselves discovering a multitude of classic and contemporary literature never known to them before, a complete literary world opened before their eyes.

    [I like this para, especially if the assertion is supported by some stat somewhere.]

    This new found interest in reading among the masses must force those opposed to reconsider their opinion. Though a writer might prefer their readers to enjoy the art that is their writing on the traditional page, is it not slightly more important that people are reading it at all? Consider the expansion of audience. Now, more people than ever can share in the writings of all types of authors, whether they prefer printed or digital books.

    [Those opposed to . . .? Again you let your argument fall, relying on the reader to link back to prior assertions without maintaining the link yourself. And “must” it force others to reconsider, or “should” it? The rest of this para should be revised to make a stronger statement. Saying things like “is it not ‘slightly’ more important that people are reading” is weak in the assertion (‘slightly’ is a weak word) and it is not clear if you mean this literally or rhetorically. Also, the sentence “Consider the expansion of the audience” comes across as a, pardon the statement, lazy way of reminding us of perhaps the crux of your argument. A slight treatment here can make a lot of difference: “Let us not forget the value of an expanded audience: now more people than ever . . .” or something like that.]

    E-readers cannot be seen as the enemy of tangible books. They are simply another medium for the ideas of an artist. Even though canvas may be the medium of choice for a painter, he or she cannot deny the growing market for digital art, and neither can the writer.

    [First sentence: “E-readers cannot be seen as the enemy of tangible books.” – er, oh yes they can! (says your readers). A softer statement – “E-readers ‘should’ not be seen . . .” is much safer. Also, ‘tangible’ is an ethereal word. I suggest ‘physical’ when discussing books versus digital. ‘Physical’ and ‘virtual.’ The rest of this sentence makes a good point.]

    Society may become accustomed to e-readers eventually, as they did for printed books, and perhaps the rise in reading may once again plummet. But the writing industry will inevitably be reborn with the invention of a new way of reading, because it is adaptable. The written word remains a valuable component of Western culture, but as cultures evolve, their art must evolve with them. Those who do not adapt will be long forgotten. I think most writers would agree that the preservation of their ideas is more important than the media on which they are expressed. Writing must evolve. Let the nation of E-Readers grow.

    [Maybe the “rise in reading” won’t “plummet” because things often level off before they plummet (or rise, for that matter). Maybe just say “perhaps reading” or “readership” will plummet? In the next sentence – what is adaptable? The writing industry or the way of reading? It’s a minor criticism but hopefully you see the confusion. John Gardner says we need to create a “vivid and continuous dream” when we write. Anything that distracts the reader breaks this dream. Moving on: “Those who do not adapt will be long forgotten” – suggest you edit to say “Those who do not adapt with ‘quickly be forgotten.” Final sentence, make it a teensy bit stronger – “Let the nation of E-Readers flourish” or “All hail the new generation of E-Readers” or something a bit more peppy.

    I hope this is helpful. Thank you for letting me be involved in your writing process!]

    • I decided to share this with the rest of my followers so that they may also benefit from your helpful critiques! I find it very difficult to edit my own work, so getting some outside perspective is very useful. Learning and growing as a human and a writer is exactly what I want my blog to be about. Your reply is perfect. Thank you so much for putting time into this — I’ll certainly try to improve!

      • I’m glad it was helpful. I think seeing our own work clearly is the most difficult thing about writing. The worst thing, though, is getting rejected but having no idea why.

  3. “These anti-digital complaints seem to stem from writers and readers who have developed an emotional attachment to books themselves, those who will be generally more saddened by the decrease in print books than those readers without attachment.” I can’t agree more with this because I’m one of those readers emotionally attach to books, I’m sad because they are losing its value for the general public that are not bookworms, however I think is natural. It’s impossible to deny ereaders’ advantages to the people that see books just as a passtime. But I’m sure physical books and ebooks will coexist just like mp3s and vinyls/cds do now.

    With ereaders, the number of people who reads nowadays has increased,which is great and awesome, what I found more ironic is that, even though the number of readers has grown and more and more people are now into literature, they don’t become more picky with what they read.

    Great post! 🙂

    • Ooh that’s an excellent thought. Books will still be around, but they’ll be like records: not as many people listen to them, but you look cool and sophisticated if you do. We’ll be like the hipsters of books 😛

  4. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and let me
    tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I’m
    very happy that I found this during my hunt for something
    relating to this.

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