By Nisha Gill, Staff Writer
As technology continues to evolve and play an increasingly large role in our everyday lives, taking time away from it has never been more important. However, the temptations of technology are difficult to resist and, as a result, there are very few places where one is able to truly disconnect.
The Printed Word (69 King St. W.), is one of those few places where it is truly possible to disconnect. For owner James McDonald, opening the store was, in part, a reaction against the digital—this was also the inspiration for its name. The store is well-lit and open, perfect for exploring the line-up of floor to ceiling bookshelves, all of which house a carefully curated collection of both fiction and nonfiction works.
“I’ve had a lot of people come, in early days, and first of all, not even recognize that it’s a bookstore, it’s so idiosyncratic. Which is weird, because go back thirty years and this is what just bookstores looked like. They have books in and different subjects and here we are. But because it doesn’t look like Chapters . . . or the traditional chains that we have, it’s ‘What is this place? What do you do here?’” explained McDonald.
For McDonald, reading and exploration go hand in hand; reading is an opportunity for a special kind of exploration. But this kind of exploration is becoming increasingly difficult to follow through on in our technology-driven world. Thanks to our devices and social media, we have almost all the information we could ever want at our fingertips. However, the kind of exploration we engage with on our devices, or while scrolling through social media, is often different from what we find in books. What we find in books is a slower, more experimental form of exploration that simply cannot be found in technology.
“Books are slower and imaginative. You enter them in a completely different way . . . What are books really are places of exploration and imagination and quiet wondering and all those great things,” said McDonald.
In particular though, McDonald recognizes the importance of this kind of exploration—and the conversation that it can provoke—for students, who are often the most tied to their technology.
“A lot of people come in and see that you have philosophy or you have university press titles and stuff, [they think we] must get a lot of students, [that] the McMaster community must be a huge supporter of [our] establishment and the fact is, not at all . . . It’s just people, just interested people who like books, reading, thinking, talking . . . The reason to have a bookstore is to explore, find the thing you didn’t know you were looking for, the thing you didn’t know existed and students should really be tapping into some of this. And there are conversations that happen here that are interesting, conversations that students can bring.”
The Printed Word is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.