Book Review: The Revenge of Analog

I had The Revenge of Analog by David Sax sitting on my “to read” pile for several months before I actually picked it up and started reading it. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be too esoteric or high-brow for me as I don’t normally read a lot of non-fiction.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that The Revenge of Analog was both east to read and interesting. Each chapter focuses on a different analog technology (for lack of a better word) starting with vinyl records. Sax discusses records through the growth of record stores in his community and then interviews a vinyl record pressing facility in Nashville to discuss the growth of vinyl records in the age of digital music downloads and streaming music services. It is followed by a chapter about notebooks through the lens of Moleskine and Evernote, film for cameras through the revival of FILM Ferrania and the Impossible Project, and board games through the lens of a local game cafe. Then the second half of the book covers the revival of books and magazines, physical retail shopping, the workplace, school, and camping.

The tone is personal and conversational. For some this won’t seem as well-researched or in-depth but I think for a lot of folks in the pen community, this approach might be appealing.

This is not a doctoral dissertation, but more of an overview of how each of these non-digital technologies are making a resurgence. I’m sure it is possible to write a full, deeply researched book on each individual topic that would be more fully discussed and analyzed. This is the introduction and is food for thought. I finished the book several weeks ago and lent it to a friend immediately because I couldn’t stop talking about different chapters I had read, each which could stand on their own like long form articles as well as parts of the whole book, particularly the Adobe chapter (Chapter 9) and the Camp Chapter (Epilogue). The chapter most likely to rile people is the chapter on Work (Chapter 6) which uses Shinola as a point of reference, for better or worse.

I originally purchased Revenge of Analog for the chapter about notebooks and Moleskine which I found interesting and did provide more background information about the development and rise of that company but the whole appreciation for analog, in general, is interesting to consider. Whether you end up enjoying the book or it makes you livid, it will be food for thought.

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6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Thanks Anna,
    You are the first, that I know of, to expound enough on this book but not give it all away so that someone, like me, who has a piqued interest in this book can decide if they want to purchase it. Now, I do.

  2. One of my pen pals is reading this. Thank you for detailing the topics covered. Moleskine is great at marketing itself. I haven’t read this, but wish pocket notebooks got a mention.

  3. I’ve had this book on my wish list for months. I just can’t decide if I want to try to make room for it on my already vastly overloaded shelves, or bow to the irony of buying the electronic version. 😉 Great review – thanks!

  4. I know this sounds counterintuitive but adding digital to my analog existence has made my life both more complicated and more efficient – at the same time. I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing for me, but the people who pay me love it.

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