If you're looking for a book fast, you download an ebook. If you're looking for a book cheap, you download an ebook. Though hardcover book sales are actually outpacing electronic ones, ebooks have still significantly shaken up the publishing industry, leaving anyone who's invested in print trembling in their wake. As e-publication rages on, print aficionados are often forced to rhapsodize about the value of the tangible word in intangible terms: "Print books are just…better! They smell of libraries, you know?"
Well, there's a new website in town that loves print — and doesn't care to engage in any sort of ebook vs. hardcover debate. Wink Books was founded by the masterminds behind Wired, Boing Boing, and Cool Tools, and its premise is simple: every weekday, Wink reviews one book that deserves to be printed on paper. If the publication in question would work just fine as an ebook, the folks at Wink simply ignore it.
Here's something we tend to forget while debating the joy of touching a book vs. the convenience of a Kindle vs. screen glare vs. e-storage capabilities: some books will never work electronically. Radical, huh? For Wink, what makes a book worthy of print isn't the fact that it's a book — the print-worthy books are the ones that couldn't be experienced any other way.
Take The Medical Book, by Clifford A. Pickover, which Wink's reviewer describes as "a curio cabinet...pressed into the pages of a book." It's a chronological recounting of milestones in both medicine and "medicine," ranging from lobotomies to witch doctor hi-jinx, with bizarre illustrations to accompany each gory history. Technically, you could get the same information from an e-reader, but part of the thrill is actually flipping through book to see what jumps (or oozes) out at you.
On a more extreme end of the print spectrum, we have the curious tome S., by J.J. Abrams (creator of Lost) and Doug Dorst. This is a book that could literally never be an ebook (...she wrote, as time-travelers from 3014 cackle at her naiveté). Initially, the whole thing appears to be an old library book full of handwritten notes by various library patrons. As you read through the physical book, you'll realize that the annotations are woven into the story; you'll also encounter postcards, newspaper clippings, and other artifacts that deepen the plot. The act of stumbling across a yellowing photograph that serves as a clue is an experience only print can replicate.
Between the intangible pages of Wink, you'll also find graphic novels, gleaming books of photography, pop-up elements, unusual paper, and all things touchable and intriguing. Though Wink is just a website (a Tumblr, even), it'll have you running to the flea market to scope out some printed strangeness of your own soon enough.