What if paper was invented today?

Boss: “So, Jim, I got your carving about this new invention of yours called [looks down at the heavy flat slate rock in his arms] pap-par?”

Jim: “It’s pronounced ‘pay-per’! And yes, I believe it will revolutionize how we keep information!”

Boss: [eyebrow arched] “Is that so?”

Jim: “Yeah! We wouldn’t have to keep things on slate or granite or rocks or walls!”

Boss: “Alrighty then, let’s see it!”

[Jim pulls out a sheet of paper and hands it to the Boss]

Jim: “Ta da!”

Boss: “Whoa! It’s so… thin! And light!”

Jim: “I know! With this, we won’t have to carry around heavy tablets! And check this out! [takes the sheet of paper from the Boss’s hand] We can use the same ink that we use to paint on it! [starts drawing lines and writing words] And once you are done, you can roll it or fold it for easy storage.” [folds it over and hands it back to the Boss]

Boss: “Amazing. Simply amazing.”

Jim: “I know!”

Boss: “This is great, Jim! This could change everythi- [the paper tears slightly] What the-”

Jim: “Oh, yeah, the paper is easy to tear. Be careful with that.”

Boss: “I see. We’ll have to mark that down on the label. ‘Use caution: May easily tear.’ [apprehensive pause] Is there anything else I should know about this?”

Jim: “There might be some other things that would turn off potential consumers.”

Boss: “Like?”

Jim: [sighs] “It’s flammable.”

Boss: “How flammable?”

Jim: “Quite.” [holds up a match to the cover of the page. It lights quickly.]

Boss: “Oh my-”

Jim: [patting out the flame] “Yeah… that will have to go on the label as well. ‘Caution: Flammable’”

Boss: [pulling the partially burned page from Jim’s hand] “Well, Jim, I think this still has potential. Marketing can handle those drawbacks and we can run that little text at the bottom of the screen for the television ads. So long as we put the warning labels on, we should be in the cl- Oww!” [drops the paper to the floor and pulls his hand to his face]

Jim: “What!”

Boss: “The edge of this pap-par! It- it… cut me! [starts sucking on the paper cut] That really stung!”

Jim: “Look, it’s only a scratch! And it goes away quickly!”

Boss: “Oh, so do you want to answer those lawsuits when people cut themselves worse on this? [grimaces at the sheet of paper lying on the floor] Next you’ll say is that it was made using chemicals.”

Jim: “Not exactly…”

Boss: “But?”

Jim: “It is made from wood pulp. [Boss cocks his head to the side looking at Jim] Which comes from grinding up trees.’”

Boss: “Are you KIDDING me? If the environmentalists get a hold of that fact, they’ll have a fit. They’ll want to know what kinds of tree are used and how many and where they are coming from and what they are displacing when you cut them down! This is a NIGHTMARE! It tears easily, it catches on fire from the tiniest of flames, the edge can cut you, and now you are telling me that THIS [picks up the torn burnt paper and starts shaking it in the air] is made from TREES? Are you F-ING kidding me? This thing will have a scariest warning label in the HISTORY of the INDUSTRY. There is NO way that ANYONE will BUY this. At least with stone tablets, we just tell people ‘Oh, mind your feet if you drop it’ and ‘Carrying it around is like another exercise workout’. There is a positive spin we can put on tablets. [waves his finger at the paper] There is NOTHING we can SAY about THIS, this, this pap-par that will overcome the inherent DANGER! Who wants to buy something that says ‘Warning: Flammable. Easily tears. Edges are sharp and may cut you.’ We might as well throw in a ‘Do not eat’ to round it out! I mean, HONESTLY, how in the HELL are WE supposed to SELL this as a REPLACEMENT to the stone tablet?!?” [Boss stands there a moment, nosily breathing in and out as his anger swells]

Jim: [meekly] “…I can work on it some more.”

Boss: [puts his arm around Jim] “Jim, it’s a good step. But, it’s not ready for prime time. There are just too many potential lawsuits and liabilities at this time. But, I know you’re on the right track. Someday, we’ll replace these heavy stone tablets. Maybe, you could work on a lighter stone tablet. Strong rock but lighter. Something that won’t break your toes when you drop it on your foot. Something that you could either chalk or chisel. That’s the future, my boy.”

I originally wanted to make this an allegory about libraries, books, and e-readers, but this direction was much funnier in my opinion. =D

3 thoughts on “What if paper was invented today?

  1. Pingback: The Radical Patron – extreme thoughts on public libraries –

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