Let us suppose for a moment that paper were to disappear. Would anything be lost? Everything would be lost.
Paper is the technology through which and with which we have made sense of the world. The making of paper and the manifold uses of paper have made our civilization what it is.
But the age of paper is coming to an end. In 2010, Amazon announced for the first time that it was selling more e-books than paper books: according to some, the paper book has no more than five years before it becomes extinct. E-tickets replace tickets. Archives are digitised. The world we know was made from paper, and yet everywhere we look, paper is beginning to disappear.
In ‘Paper: An Elegy’ Ian Sansom curates a history of paper, in all its forms and functions. Both a cultural study and a series of personal reflections on the meaning of paper, this book is a timely meditation.
As we enter a world beyond paper, Sansom explores the paradoxes of paper – its vulnerability and its durability – and shows how some kinds of paper will always be with us.