What do reading a book, smoking a cigarette, throwing confetti and voting in an election have in common? The answer, of course, is paper. Paper serves nearly every function of our lives. It is the technology with which we have made sense of the world.
Yet the age of paper is ending. Ebooks now outsell their physical counterparts. Still, there are some uses of paper that seem unlikely to change – Christmas won’t be Christmas without wrapped presents or crackers.
And the language of paper – documents, files and folders – has survived digitisation. In Paper: An Elegy Ian Sansom builds a museum of paper and explores its paradox – its vulnerability and durability. This book is a timely meditation on the very paper it’s printed on.