The Revenge of Analog
Real Things and Why They Matter
We work, sell, and live in the real world, argues David Sax—even amidst the so-called digital age. In his new book The Revenge of Analog (an NYT Critics’ choice for Top Books of 2016), Sax explains how the return of tangible products and processes—think vinyl, Polaroids, moleskins, brick and mortar retailers, and more—are proving best for business by giving us exactly what digital cannot: tactility, authenticity, and soul.
To New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter is both “insightful and entertaining” and one of the best books of 2016. It has been long-listed for an Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and garnered enthusiastic praise for its blend of psychology, business sense, and old-fashioned reportage. Publishers Weekly calls it a book with “a calming effect, telling readers, one analog page at a time, that tangible goods, in all their reassuring solidity, are back and are not going anywhere.” Dan Lyons calls it a “smart, funny, glorious book,” while Douglas Rushkoff argues that it “makes a compelling case for the reclamation of terra firma and all that comes with it.”
“Sax is great company, a writer of real and lasting charm.”— New York Times
A sophisticated analyst of major consumer shifts, David Sax is also the author of two other fascinating accounts of pop culture and business. In The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue, Sax argues that food trends are not only a collection of photos on Instagram—they have an everlasting effect on our culture, workforce, economy, health, and day-to-day lives. The New York Times calls it “a romp” through the food industry that will “leave readers wondering about how susceptible we are to the charms of any new food.” His previous book, Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen, won the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. Sax’s other writing appears regularly in The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker’s business blog, and LA Times, and he is a regular feature on CBC Radio and NPR.
It’s now a cliché to announce that business and culture have moved to the digital realm. But while times have changed, the value of analog goods, ideas, and experiences has actually increased. With journalist David Sax, author of the critically acclaimed book The Revenge of Analog, you’ll discover why a return to analog might be a welcome shift—and best for business.
Vinyl records, notebooks, Polaroids, board games, and other seemingly obsolete products have seen robust growth in the last five years. Less efficient, more expensive goods are now coveted consumer items, largely sought out by millennials who want more than phones and apps, and are willing to pay for it. Analog goods offer tactility, authenticity, and emotional experiences that digital programs cannot; their inherent disadvantages are now their chief allure. But the revenge of analog also means we’re rediscovering the relationship between analog ideas and how we learn. Print publishing means better connections for readers, and a higher value for advertisers. Brick and Mortar retailers can deliver better profits than even the best ecommerce operations. Some of the most forward-thinking organizations embracing analog are actually based in digital technology—think Facebook, Google, Evernote, Yelp, and Pinterest, who’ve switched to paper, pen, whiteboards, and tech-free meetings to help employees retain information.
For students of culture, this talk explores the anthropological importance of analog experiences—how we’re also heading back for soulful, deeply human reasons beyond talk of sales. For analog-based companies, Sax’s message is a rallying call to rediscover their worth and potential. And for companies with a strong digital focus, this is a great opportunity to imagine new (and very old!) ways of embracing analog culture for hybridized success.