Recently a friend told me about this book The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax that discusses among other analog things, board games. As someone whose career focuses in the digital realm yet enjoys analog things like board games, handwritten notes, gardening, crafting, etc., I was very intrigued by the topic of this book. The back text got my attention even more as I was curious to read more about this resurgence of analog.
A funny thing happened on the way to the digital utopia. We’ve begun to fall back in love with the very analog goods and ideas the tech gurus insisted that we no longer needed. Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life. Notebooks, records, and stationery have become cool again. Behold the Revenge of Analog.
David Sax has uncovered story after story of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even big corporations who’ve found a market selling not apps or virtual solutions but real, tangible things. As e-books are supposedly remaking reading, independent bookstores have sprouted up across the country. As music allegedly migrates to the cloud, vinyl record sales have grown more than ten times over the past decade. Even the offices of tech giants like Google and Facebook increasingly rely on pen and paper to drive their brightest ideas.
Sax’s work reveals a deep truth about how humans shop, interact, and even think. Blending psychology and observant wit with first-rate reportage, Sax shows the limited appeal of the purely digital life—and the robust future of the real world outside it.
Overall, I am glad I read the book, but I did not enjoy the reading experience. I found the writing style to be rather aloof, and at times confrontational. I do believe there is a resurgence in interest in analog things, yet I felt this book was a bit heavy-handed with its facts and opinions. The Board Games chapter had particular interest to me, so I read it through a few times. If you are interested in the history of the board game cafe, Snakes & Lattes, then this book has a lot of good info about its genesis. But, that very chapter irritated me with some of its comments about roleplaying gamers. It had a very board games are better than RPGs vibe to it to the point the chapter ended with a quote from the Snakes and Lattes owner saying, “Proof that this hobby is further reaching than a bunch of guys living in their mom’s basement, playing D&D. This is a real place where real people play real games” (the emphasis is from the book, not my addition). So RPGs/D&D are not real games? I had to put the book down at that point and come back to it later.
So, do I recommend the book? Actually, yes. It had some fascinating things to say about the resurgence of analog things like paper notes, vinyl albums, board games, and film. It also dives into a philosophical discussion about businesses and education and how digital technology may be hindering more than it is helping in some areas. Reading books that have opinions and philosophies different than yours opens your mind to other ideas. I will not say you will enjoy reading this book, but you will be challenged by it and have some things to mull over. If you work in digital technology like I do or are passionate about RPGs as I am, then be ready to feel defensive at times while reading this book, but push through that and focus on his overall narrative.