Invisible Ink

Is it me, or is the print in magazines and other materials getting lighter and lighter?

Am I the only one who has to turn on a bright light, bring my eyes close, and rotate my head before deciphering the words on the page?

The letters are thin and spare, almost transparent. It’s as if someone invented a new font called Miser.


True, I’m no young whippersnapper anymore, and my eyes have seen better days. I have corrective lenses; Lord knows I paid enough for them. But I need to know – what’s the deal with the fading, fading print?

My guess? The high price of ink.

Hewlett Packard is to blame. You go into the electronics store and you see nothing but HP brand ink and ink jets. There may be other ink companies in the world, but you get the sense that this company, HP, is the only game in town. “You want to try one of those cheaper brands and risk unholy disaster?” the display seems to say. “I don’t think so.”

So we pay the high price. I was astounded when I bought my first printer, about 15 years ago. The salesman handed me the printer of my choice and then mentioned ink.

“You mean it doesn’t come with the printer?” I gasped.

“Nope, you gotta buy it. Let’s see, black and white, also color. Here ya go.” He stacked the little boxes on the other box. “Now, you’ll want a cable too, right? These here are made of solid gold.”

Walking to the cashier in a daze, I wondered how printing got so expensive.

I immediately felt sympathy for my company, who spent a lot more on ink than I did. I became a convert, using my work printer sparingly, going as far as taking gridlines off my spreadsheets before hitting the print button. No need to waste ink on those little frills.

But I grew incensed when a co-worker printed out a full color, 24-page PowerPoint file, with dark blue backgrounds with just a few white bullet points on each. Waste, waste!

I wanted to find out who did it, take them by the shoulders and shake vigorously. “In the names of Hewlett and Packard, what are you doing? This is a drain of our company’s resources, you fool. You’re the reason we have crappy pens!”

But I never did because the culprit let the pages sit by the community printer for four days until someone threw them out.

Based on several studies, ink is either $2,303 per gallon, $ 3,482 per gallon, or even the hold-on-to-your-hat price of $4,294 per gallon. As my friend Jeff would say, “That’s no bargain.”


So the fading, barely-there print phenomenon continues. At this rate we might soon see publications with completely white pages. We’ll have to carry around lemon juice and maybe a blow dryer to make the words emerge, at the same time releasing our inner third-grader. Maybe by then there’ll be a Dark Print section in the library, so people like me can actually see it. Maybe not.

As long as it’s not totally invisible…isible…ble…


About meremention

Resident of the Granite State, I am a freelance writer who also toils as a research analyst.
This entry was posted in Humor, Pet Peeves and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Invisible Ink

  1. Undersquid says:

    I had not noticed this, but I don’t really buy magazines anymore. Next time I go to the grocery store, I’ll see what I spot. As to printer ink, yes, I tried the cheaper brands, and they are not the same. They don’t display as clearly after printed, and maybe it’s because the cartridge is older, but “iffy” ink cartridges seem to dry out faster.

    A long time ago, I also thought ink was deployed magically from within the printer, an infinite source of it that never needed to be replenished. Mark my words, one day such a printer will exist… one that “burns” images or text on pages, without the need for ink.

    I love owning real books, printed on real paper, the kind that doesn’t degrade as quickly as my old school books have… but the future is here, and ink is no longer needed in order to read any kind of material. I’m surprised spreadsheets are still printed on paper, when they can easily just travel to a company tablet with one single mouse click. You luddites. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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