Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Farewell the Seed Catalog
When I was growing up, cassette tapes for audio were a big deal. Eight track tapes were not quite yet passe. When I received a small cassette recorder/player, I was at the cutting edge of technology (I thought).
I don't listen to music on an iPod. I still have music on cassette tapes and even a number of movies on VHS. I don't listen or watch them, but I have them and I could play them. Most of our music is on CD and we watch movies on DVD.
I use a computer and the Internet (obviously). In the job I had before I became a full-time gardener, I used the computer extensively. We had begun to rely more on the Internet for business.
But I don't read books from a Kindle. I like holding the paper version in my hand, smelling the pages, curling up in a chair to read. I don't like reading long articles on a computer screen. I like shopping with a real catalog that I can curl up, dog-ear the pages, circle things or mark with an X, go back to it again and again without having to boot up before I make my decision.
Then I will go to the catalog online and order. That is convenient.
However, it is only a matter of time before paper catalogs cease to arrive in the mail. A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a seed company of which I have been a long-time customer. They were going to an online only catalog. Today I opened my e-mail and found a message from them that began
"Today we officially introduce our new Virtual Catalog for 2012 http://www.nicholsgardennursery.com/2012/
" Our newly expanded list of seeds, plants and merchandise whets the appetite for the next round of gardening. This virtual catalog offers most of the experience of a paper format, an accessible index, a place to permanently maintain notes, it's a friendly format that can be enlarged for easy reading. Best of all, no more lost catalogs, chewing dogs or loaned it and it never came back. Please take a look, have some fun with it and let us know what you think…we want to make this work for everyone."
Sigh. No more curling up in a comfy chair by the fire with their catalog to dream and ponder. Doing business online only is like... well, like doing business. There just seems something wrong about not being able to hold the catalog in my hand and curl it and toss it on the floor, bend it back to mark a page... I don't have a dog to chew up things and I never lend a catalog that I don't have a second copy of.
I certainly understand the business sense of cutting costs and paper waste. It is practical. It is wise. It is even environmentally sound. I can applaud that.
But I will miss the tactile sensation of paper in hand. The sense of luxury of curling up in the chair, a mug of tea at my side. It's just not the same experience with the laptop.
I will adapt. I must. While you in the cyber generation scratch your heads and wonder "what's the big deal?" Many of you, perhaps, have never ordered anything from a paper catalog. But I remember the excitement when the large Sears "Wishbook" arrived in the mail. So long ago.
Sigh... Farewell to the paper catalog