Miracle paper


“Water is the great enemy of books,” my grandmother used to tell me, for reasons that I can’t now recall. I’ve always suspected that she was right, though, and have always been wary of reading in the bath. Presumably things are riskier still for those who have moved over to ereaders.

Now, though, books and water have come together in what the press is billing ‘the drinkable book‘–a book made of paper that is capable of filtering out bacteria, rendering the water that passes through it safe for drinking. The paper is being touted as a cheap and easy solution for parts of the world that are afflicted by a shortage of clear water. It’s still at the development stage, so it might not be plain-sailing from here–but it sounds like a wonderful prospect.

Perhaps the odd thing about this story is why the filter papers should have come together as a book–since you don’t buy kitchen-roll, or toilet-roll, or coffee-filters in book form. I wonder if it’s because reading has so often been associated with eating and drinking, so that there’s a kind of rightness to the idea of drinking a book. (If this seems like a strange claim, see the report on our 2012 conference on the theme of ‘Eating Words‘. Or settle down with a glass of wine and a good book to test it for yourself).

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