When it comes time, which side will you choose?
Book or Kindle?
Although there’s not nearly as much attention paid to this debate as the current political crazy season, there are people who feel just as strongly as if defending their political views.
E-readers have the ability to store thousands of books and other reading material in one easy-to-use device, which makes these gadgets very convenient for students, travelers, and anyone who does a lot of reading on the go. They are definitely more lightweight and easy to travel with, and come with their own backlight, so you don’t end up in the dark dying to know how the story ends.
“It makes sense for some books to be available digitally, such as textbooks and certain reference material,” for just those reasons, says Steve Cymrot, owner of Riverby Books in Washington, D.C.
But personally, I’m a “real” book geek. Funny for someone who writes in the blogosphere, isn’t it? The type of writing I do “fits” with Internet publishing, here and on The Huffington Post where I also publish. But a story — mmm, that belongs on paper, bound and read, and passed around for years to come!
Reading a book is a very tactile pursuit for me, as well as visual. I LOVE the feel of it in my hands. Hardcover is best, but a good paperback can be just as rewarding. I can read virtually anywhere at any time: curled up in front of the fireplace on a rainy day, on a beach, in a car, on a plane, tucked up in bed at midnight, out on the patio, in a bustling lobby. If the story has captured my imagination, there is no distraction too great to tear me away! And there is something so satisfying about picking up a book in progress and seeing where your bookmark is: how many pages you’ve read, and (oh no!) only so many left to go.
I love the subtlety of different typefaces used in book publishing. The various types and coloration of the paper. That “new book smell” is more gratifying to me than a new car smell (although that is awfully nice, too). Again, Steve Cymrot, our bookstore owner friend from D.C. says, “Traditional books will never go away entirely…a 200-year-old hand-bound text printed on rag paper is a thing of beauty, and that will never change.”
The soft, worn feel of a much loved book — 2 years or 200 — is enough to calm just about any worry or anxiety, at least for a while. The crispness of a brand new book as I open it for the first time sends shots of adrenaline through me as I anticipate a great story coming (does anyone else reach for the second or third copy in the stack at the bookstore so you can be the first to crack the spine?). Even the very act of turning a page is both anticipatory and revealing!
As a toddler, I’m told I adored books. I loved being read to, and was an early reader, quite often advancing beyond “appropriate” subject matter for my age. And I LOVED book series! When I discovered Nancy Drew, I plowed through those mysteries in no time. In fact, I was on such a streak, my 6th grade teacher (Mrs. Jones) declared I could only count 1 for every 5 Nancy Drew books towards my reading “quota.”
During the turbulent teen years, books transported me from the miserable existence that was adolescence; and as I grew older, I found even more that allowed me to put down my adult-sized burdens — at least for a while and escape into another time or place where my worries weren’t relevant.
In college as the proverbial poor student, I bought used books whenever possible (as an English major, I had a LOT of books; masses of books; stacks and stacks of books…you get the idea). But I always spent a great deal of time looking through them first to find the cleanest ones I could; meaning, as little highlighting or margin notes as possible. Being able to make my OWN notes or highlight meaningful passages was key. The only book I can recall buying new was my collection of Shakespeare’s works, The Complete Signet Classic Shakespeare. A huge investment for me back then, that still holds a place of honor on one of our (many) bookshelves at home, and is still read every now and then!
Pausing to relish a particular line or paragraph that is so well written that you have to — you just must — close your eyes and FEEL the book in your hands as you roll those words around in your head is Heaven on Earth! And closing a book at the end of a most satisfying tale feels almost holy to me.
Before you pessimists conclude that printed books will soon go the way of the eight-track, cassette tape, and CD, consider that — unlike these formats — many people have an emotional connection to actual books (including yours truly), not just the stories and information they contain. In this way, books are more like vinyl: though impractical, many people still cling to their LP collections for the richness of their sound. Those of us still carrying books long for the richness they impart, both in story and in their physicality.
Drop me a comment and let me know where you stand: book or e-reader?
Until Friday, Friends & Readers alike ~ Cheers!