There is a lot of talk these days about the Kindle and other e-book readers. Will they replace the traditional paper book? How will they revolutionize the way we do things? Some early adopters have bought one version or another, but most people seem to be waiting for the price to go down and formats to standardize.
Myself, I’m waiting for an affordable one that can display color .pdf files. I could really use one in my day to day life. I think these tablets are an incredible development, and are finally realizing the vision that my old boss had for a flat panel display back in the mid 1990s. I even used to work at netLibrary, making books into e-books. I think e-readers are great for travel, commuting, education and many other aspects of life. They allow you to search for something in a book, much faster than with a conventional book. You can take notes directly in the book, without permanently defacing it. Even your bookmark won’t fall out.
But books. I love books! I’ve always loved books. I love being around them, holding them, turning their pages. As a child, my house was always filled with books of every kind. We also had plenty of kids’ books of our own, which my mom has held on to, fortunately. The smell of books is enticing. Being in a bookstore, whether a used or new one, is so exciting. Around every end cap is another thing to learn, another project to make. Libraries are the same way. They are all filled with potential discoveries. Being around all that knowledge in a physical way just doesn’t happen with electronic versions, though. Browsing and scanning electronic files can make you feel one big step removed from their content.
I think the love of physical books is a genetic thing. Both my parents have it. I have it. My son has it. But adding another book to a digital book reader just doesn’t have the same effect as buying one or checking one out from the library. To hold the paper, the different covers, hard back, paperback, matte, shiny, thick pages, smooth thin pages, different sizes… I love the variety and can’t fully put it into words what I love about books. I just know that they feed my soul.