Sunday, October 27, 2013

Classified Ads Gone Missing

The Advertiser is another paper gone the way of the dodo bird. My thoughts today are about the lack of this special form of communication and how the loss of The Advertiser affected us directly.

The Advertiser was exactly what the name implies. It was a weekly paper in which folks hawked their wares; everything from used cars to baby clothes. The paper was free, deriving its income from the thousands of classified ads it ran each week.  It was the go-to place to find almost anything one wanted to buy and it was the place to run garage sale ads. Dealers and amateurs alike would scour the ads on Wednesday, selecting the sales they wanted to patronize on Thursday or over the weekend.

In years past, our ads pulled the kind of dealers and buyers we needed as we sold off old, but working, electronics, housewares, and small appliances. However, as I prepared to place an ad for what we planned to be our last sale for the foreseeable future, I learned that The Advertiser was no more. We ran an ad elsewhere but it didn't produce a single buyer. The people who came happened to see the signs and stopped by.

I suppose Craigslist and other online sites are the reason The Advertiser closed its doors. However, the Internet sites do not replace that paper. For one reason, The Advertiser was local, covering a twenty-mile radius. When you live in a seven-county metropolis, locale is important and we are too far away from the city to draw from its population. People do not, as a rule, drive fifty miles to go to a garage sale. Gas is too costly and no one likes to go into unfamiliar territory, not even for a $2 Christmas tree. Another reason is that dealers who made their livings off these sales carefully watched the ads for specific items and attended the sales that featured them. We had electronics for sale that had sold to dealer in years past. This time there was no way to reach him. Now we will take it to the recycling facility.

Many of the changes in communication have unanticipated consequences. The loss of The Advertiser is one of those. Someday we will downsize and have things to sell. Will we have another garage sale? Perhaps, but it won't be as successful as others have been and more items will go to Goodwill. Perhaps that's a good thing. I don't know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reading is Like Going to Disneyland

Love your books?  Love reading? You're not the only one. In a June article recently discovered by yours truly, Annie Murphy Paul described how she felt about it.  (Read it here.)

Paul talks about the benefits of immersive reading and how it differs from the kind of reading we do on the Web or in magazines. There, hyperlinks, ads, and videos interrupt us. That reading is filled with distractions. 

There are benefits to immersive experiences as anyone who has been refreshed by a day with The Mouse can attest. Deep, immersive reading is closest to a light trance or that state of being that is half way between wakefulness and sleep. While we are reading, we are transported and the state of the economy and world tensions do not exist. Instead, we are on a pirate ship deep in space or standing on high steel building the Brooklyn Bridge. For a time, we live in an altered state.

You probably think of fiction when you consider this phenomenon but non-fiction can do the same thing if it is written with the right tone. If you've been enveloped by a page-turner of any genre, you have experienced this unique mental condition. I'm sure it is one of the reasons we readers cherish our books.

Writing is the most important form of communication we have. It can change our more ways than one.