There comes a point with all new technologies where the terminology shifts. The new technology becomes the norm and the old tech gets a label to identify it. Take guitars, for example. What used to be guitar and electric guitar is now acoustic guitar and guitar. The new tech is now assumed to be the norm.
Earlier this week Mike Cane noticed that someone had filed trademark for “books on paper”. I think that is a sign that we might have hit a similar point with books.
The trademark was filed by Half Price Books, and that detail is itself worthy of a grin. This is a discount bookstore chain here in the US with around 70 stores, and they don’t even sell ebooks. (I wonder what they know that we don’t?) Kidding aside, HPB has held this trademark since October, and it doesn’t quite cover paper books; it covers bookstore services.
Once I started looking into this I realized that HPB wasn’t the first to use this term. A simple Google search revealed that this term is actually being used to talk about the print edition of books. The Urban Dictionary has a particularly interesting usage (that’s not definitive, I know). Even The Guardian has used this term, and you know that they wouldn’t dream of corrupting the English language by coining a term.
TBHm I started writing this post with a slight giggle. I didn’t take the idea seriously, but as I got deeper and deeper into the story I realized that it’s not a joke. The trademark above is about to become the norm (if it’s not already). You cannot assume that when someone says book that they mean paper – not anymore.
Now, I have always used the phrase paper book, but I am also a pedant who likes to use redundant words in order to more correctly convey my point. But it looks to me that soon everyone will join me in using the word paper to refer to the print edition of a book. It will no longer be assumed. I might be few months ahead of the curve on this, but I do believe it will happen.
What do you think?