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The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,356 ratings  ·  420 reviews
One of Michiko Kakutani's (New York Times) top ten books of 2016

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 Businesses that once looked outdated, from film photography to brick-and-mortar retail, are now springing with new life.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, r
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 8th 2016 by PublicAffairs
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Jan 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
1.5* rounded down.

Focusing each chapter on a specific company helps narrow the focus on larger industries to useful, specific anecdotes, but has the unfortunate effect of sounding like breathless advertisements for said company. "The Revenge of Paper" is twenty pages of shilling for Moleskine. Other chapters aren't much better: the resurgence of physical goods felt like less to do with the so-called revenge of analog and more due to the application of clever advertising strategies. Not once but
Noah Nichols
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This one was an interesting read about the cancer-spreading nature of our unified reliance on ever-evolving technology. Some parts do drag a tad (like the parts about paper and online storefronts shipping orders), but there is a lot to enjoy here. Side note: I've noticed many reviewers slamming the writer of this book, and I just have to wonder why that is. In my eyes, he's not pushing an agenda on anyone! I feel like the people who get upset about books exploring this important topic are closet ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
The personality of the author (sensed through his comments) was close to unpleasant. I managed to go through about 1/2 of the book and returned my digital audio file back to the library as soon as i reached the spot where the author described how he returned shoes to a store in one year after wearing them... Somewhat interesting were chapters on board game renaissance and romantic experience of writing in moleskine notebooks. The reason i picked up the book in the first place was my surprise. Wh ...more
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Subject-wise, the book was intriguing.... but for some reason, the tone of the writing just didn't resonate with me. I felt that, if this book and I were at a party, and we were having a conversation, it would be one of those awkward conversations where I would feel like I'm being lectured to and I would have to feign interest and nod my head like I'm listening, but really I would be coming up with a way to get out of the conversation.

Mar 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
This book would make a great article in the New Yorker, or the Sunday NYT magazine. Just the intro, a few paragraphs from the 1st chapter, a few paragraphs on education/tech failure, and a good bit from the epilogue.

Everything else?


I don't know know how many times I said to myself after finishing some grandiose pronouncement by this author with: No, actually that is not how it works, or how it happened.

Time and time again, this author took bits of information, and jammed it into his prede
Margaret Sankey
Jun 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Hilariously, despite several pointed statements in the work that this is better read in analog form, I read it because it was distributed to my Kindle as a galley review copy. I get it, I really do--there are tactile satisfactions to reading a well-produced book, and there is nothing like slamming a heavy landline phone, not to mention that digital music and books don't quite *belong* to you the way a physical object does. But Sax's narrative is then his exploration of the artisan and niche prod ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
If I were reading a physical copy of this book, I would have thrown it at a wall when I was done just to demonstrate the revenge of the analog.

This is why this book was frustrating--the intro promises insights as to WHY people are turning to analog and what that MEANS. Instead, it's a bunch of jaunts around the country and chats with people who are into records or making moleskin books or own book shops. That means nothing to me. There are a million other books out there where people are saying
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating examination of aspects and products that we tend to consider over and done with in the digital age. Turns out some things might have more longevity than we think. Author Sax divides his book into two main areas: Part I: The Revenge of Analog Things and Part II: The Revenge of Analog Ideas. The “revenge” aspect reflects that dismissive attitude these things and ideas experienced as digital took hold. For example, chapter 1 discusses an analog thing long considered dead and b ...more
TJ Wilson
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have been waiting for a book to come out that says exactly this.

I couldn't believe people are still doing film, but when I googled "lomography," I can see why. And I can see "happy accidents" with film being a thing too. It's much better rolling real dice than choosing a random generator on the internet. I get it now. I now understand the resurgance of vinyl and why I choose paper for notes and to-dos and the like.

The school bit struck home pretty good as I am a teacher. And I think I've foun
Charles Haywood
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although no author likes to have his book lumped with another, this book is an excellent complement to Tim Wu’s "The Attention Merchants." Both books discuss, from different angles, possible practical reactions to the modern dominance of digital toys and tools. Today, when companies such as Facebook and Google are increasingly under fire from across the political spectrum, David Sax’s "The Revenge of Analog" reminds us of one possible response—not attack (although I am personally all for attacki ...more
Darcy McLaughlin
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Revenge of Analog is an interesting book that has a lot to like, but isn't without flaws. I'm glad that Sax explains early on that the book isn't necessarily an "anti-digital" book, and he recognizes that those aspects of the world are things that aren't going away. I do agree with his points about analog things being stimulating to humans, everything appealing about them seems tied into a romanticism that isn't quite possible to explain. Unfortunately this leads to a lot of instances of Sax wax ...more
Lee Barry
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Particularly interesting chapters on vinyl, paper and film. It's heartening to see a resurgence in these areas, but "revenge" is too strong of a word. The good thing about all of them is they don't involve a screen or interface. ...more
Norma Peters
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Everyone who is tethered to a smartphone or other digital devices should read this brilliant, entertaining book!
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow! A fascinating book for a modern-day digital junkie who remembers (a lot of) the analogue past and still keeps a lot of analogue material in his life. This book is an appreciation of the analogue world and looks at how it is making a bit of a selected comeback.

This is not a manifesto to eschew all things digital. There is something to be said about having hundreds (or more) eBooks with you, instead of carting several packing crates of heavy books around just-in-case or getting the tune you w
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Analog is making a comeback, despite everyone predicting that the future is digital: from a resurgence in sales of vinyl records to drops in ebook sales and new bookstores popping up and thriving, people are craving real things over digital. This book examines several areas of analog's revenge: music, film, gaming, and paper, as well as digital trends and ideas that are slowly reversing, such as a new value in hand-made items and education's need for less digital and more human and tactile eleme ...more
Moshe Mikanovsky
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Chapter 8 - The Revenge of School - this is, in my opinion, the most important chapter of the book! I don't know why it doesn't come first in the book, and if you skipped it or quit the book mid-way, you should at least read this one.
The reasons for the revenge of dialog are still vague in my mind. I think it's really a matter of personal preferences. As much as some romanticise vinyl records, it's not for everyone. I LOVE printed books and never took on for eBooks, as convenient as they are, b
penny shima glanz
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Written in 2016, does The Revenge of Analog hold up four years later? No.
Then, as now, this book does not answer why humans continue to choose analog tools in a world that sees constant digital advances. There is no cohesive arc to the text building to a penultimate conclusion of why analog is prevailing now. The tone makes the prose awkward, snobby, and unappealing. Overall, the text does not explore why an analog technology may prevail alongside or despite digital. The lack of data to back up
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
First half is basically case studies of analog startups — interesting enough, but the second half is really where it picks with "The Revenge of Analog Ideas." There, Sax starts to take a look more at the superiority of working analog by analyzing some key areas.

It's tough, reviewing, where you want the subject to me something other than it is. I wanted more biology and neuroscience, with all the recent discoveries about how humans absorb, process, and retain information better when it's analog.
Michael Hyatt
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
My personal involvement in the digital revolution made me extremely interested when I encountered journalist David Sax’s book, The Revenge of Analog. He follows the trend away from digital in several different areas including publishing, retail, the work environment, and education.

Sax makes explicit something many of us feel implicitly. Real, tangible things matter. And that insight has tremendous implications for business today—not only in how we purchase and consume, but also in how we invest
Oct 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
I expected to love this book, but really hated it after the first few chapters. I am an analog person (despite typing this review on a smartphone), but I felt like Sax was taking a fairly obvious observation that physical objects are more engaging than digital and presenting it as a shocking reveal. His use of hipster shibboleths like Moleskine, Polaroid cameras, and meditation classes on tech campuses narrows his "revenge" to something fussy and elitist. The continued and increasing presence of ...more
Oct 07, 2021 rated it it was ok
I am rating this especially harshly, because I am passionate about this subject and had very high expectations for this piece. There are certain interesting and insightful points interspersed throughout the book, but overwhelmingly it felt like a college assignment a la "in this essay, I will demonstrate why analog is making a return" and so on.

The chapters on film, and on school, were strong. I learned things and was wholly sold on the reasons behind their return.

The chapters on paper, book, an
Feb 07, 2022 rated it really liked it
During COVID restrictions, I got back into vinyl and board games as a slow-paced way to spend time inside. This book reviews the strengths of these analog objects in an increasingly digital world, and provides a breezy read that makes you happy to be holding a physical book with your grubby but tactile little fingers. I like that it doesn't completely crap on digital technology, but rather demonstrates, with a few specific examples, how sometimes analog is just the best tool for the job instead ...more
Michael Neno
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
An enjoyable and timely (though somewhat snobby) look at the resurgence of analog in many endeavors, industries and practices. It confirms, through many means, including extensive institutional studies, that physical means of communication and face to face communication have incalculable advantages over the use of digital media.

Topics covered include vinyl LPs, paper books, notebooks, education, film, board games, working environments, retail and more.

One drawback of the book is the author's non
Ana-Maria Petre
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a whirlwind of ideas. My impressions can be resumed as follows:

I'm just gonna read the chapter on Moleskine. Not really interested in the others.
*reads chapter on Moleskine*
Woah that was cool. Okay one more. Let's try Print, ties up nicely with the other one.

*reads chapter on print* I HAD NO IDEA MAGAZINES COULD BE SO COOL

*proceeds through the following 3 chapters at maximum speed*
Retail: I should open a shop
Work: Economy, baby! (I hate economy)
Okay maybe I should start from the be
Joseph Rizzo
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love this book, this hardcover paper and ink printed book. This is a look into many of the industries that have been disrupted by the digital revolution. Much to my surprise, it lays out some surprising realities showing a revival of analog technologies that many would think extinct or soon to be. The author instead shows the advantages that analog has in certain areas, and how they contributed to the persistence and revival of such things as vinyl records, moleskine notebooks, film photograph ...more
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
There was something delicious about reading this on an ereader! I found this book fascinating (despite my love of ereaders). The first part of the book was about analog things (notebooks, records, etc) and I thought that was really interesting but the second half was about analog "ideas" and that was where the magic happened - I think the chapter on education should be mandatory reading for all educators (and parents).

The book isn't a Luddite screaming about how digital is bad - but is calling f
Libby Shepherd
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These are a few of my favorite things: vinyl records, mole skin journals, old books, post it notes, board games and a piece of paper I can doodle on.
Quotes I loved and had to jot down...
"initial ideas blossom on paper first"
"we don't have a skill gap in America-we have a value gap"
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting premise but the execution just didn't work for me. I did enjoy the section on the history of the Moleskin journal as I am an avid user of the product. ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I vascillated between identifying with the affinity for journaling on paper and a love of board game nights to befuddlement. The sociological aspects of digital workers longing for face to face interaction, physical interaction with our environment, and ...gasp...the outdoors, are not newly identified.

I was a little thrown by the authors "research" being described more like a vagabond's journeys around Europe and North America describing the anthropological specimens he finds in various travel
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-in-2018
Each chapter covered a medium. So, the book was well organized. The writing was okay.

As a technologist who takes a notebook to meetings and uses up willpower not to look at my phone in boring meetings, I agree with the premise of the book. I just found myself annoyed in every chapter about something.

The worst was the last chapter. I think Sax is an extravert, so his idea is the problem is digital keeps us from socializing. People like him are the reason open floor plans are the rage and driving
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David Sax is a journalist, writer, and keynote speaker specializing in business and culture.

David's latest book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter looks at the resurgence of analog goods and ideas, during a time when we assumed digital would conquer all. It's available in various formats, but especially in paper, and was a Washington Post Bestseller. David's first book, Save t

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“Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.” 2 likes
“The choice we face isn't between digital and analog . That simplistic duality is actually the language that digital has conditioned us too : A false binary choice between 1 and 0 , black and white , Samsung and Apple . The real world isn't black or white . It isn't even gray . Reality is multicolored , infinitely textured , and emotionally layered . It smells funky and tastes weird , and revels in human imperfection . The best ideas emerge from that complexity , which remains beyond the capability of digital technology to fully appreciate . The real world matters , now more than ever . "
The Revenge Of Analog by David Sax”
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