"The Revenge of Analog"

David Sax, Public Affairs, 282 pages, $25.99.

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again,” Stephen King once wrote — an observation that’s never been truer than today. Far from being dead, vinyl record sales rose to $416 million last year, the highest since 1988. Instant Polaroid-like cameras have caught on among millennials and their younger siblings. In his captivating new book, the reporter David Sax provides an insightful and entertaining account of this phenomenon, creating a powerful counternarrative to the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world. Sax argues that analog isn’t going anywhere, but is experiencing a bracing revival that is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex. “Analog experiences can provide us with the kind of real-world pleasures and rewards digital ones cannot,” he writes. A growing number of artists have noticed that music made on old tape machines and vintage studio equipment sounds different — “more heartfelt, raw, and organic,” in Sax’s words — than music made with the latest, most sophisticated technology. Listeners, too, as the musician Jack White has observed, find that vinyl has a romance, a magic that doesn’t come with the click of a mouse. “The younger someone was, the more digitally exposed their generation was,” Sax writes near the end of this book, “the less I found them enamored by digital technology, and the more they were wary of its effects.” These kids were falling in love with analog.