|Geeking Out, As You Do, At Book Culture
This is my take on the "physical book vs. e-book' debate that has been quietly raging for as long as Kindles ignited the conversation. Let it be said, first of all, that I'm not trying to talk anyone out of using e-readers if it's their thing - this is my opinion only.
Let's narrow it down while we're at it. I could go on about handwriting vs tablets for taking notes, etc., but that's another post for another time. This covers my preference for leisure reading alone, and since I do a massive amount of leisure reading (sorry, dishes in the sink, I'll get to you later!), it holds a great deal of importance to me.
Once upon a time - actually February of 2012 - I bought a Nook Tablet from Barnes and Noble. I chose it over Amazon, because I still wanted to support my brick and mortar bookshops in any way that I could. At the time, I wasn't sold on using an e-reader, but I figured if it didn't take, at least I had my very first tablet, which was super handy for browsing the interwebs prior to purchasing a smartphone. Also, it had a Netflix app. I bought a pretty blue cover with a quote from George Eliot to seal the deal.
Honestly, at first I loved the thing. Sure, it was pretty rubbish for reading the magazines I'd subscribed to - Victoria Magazine does not feel good on a screen - but I had access to comic books, and Free Fridays, which occasionally struck gold. Reading wasn't terrible on the Nook. It was pretty cool when, on a dark bus ride from Philly, I was one of the few people able to continue reading. It came with me to London that year, along with a physical book I'd borrowed from the library.
Even so, of the 60 books I read in 2012, only four of them were e-books. Why? Well, first of all, I work two blocks from a public library, so it's not like I lack access to books. I own hundreds of books, and the TBR (to-be-read) pile never ends. Nearly all of the e-books I read following the Nook purchase were free or under $5, because I couldn't see spending serious money on a digital entity. It's not that I didn't respect the writers, but the item of purchase didn't seem tangible to me. A couple of times I requested Early Reviewers books from Library Thing in the digital format, and though it seemed like a good idea at first, when one book disappeared not long after I read it, I was up in arms. When I "won" ER books in paper format, the book was mine to keep, with the understanding that I'd review it. Fine, I wasn't out any money, but I didn't like this arbitrary removal.
Some have argued that digital publishing gives many an opportunity to publish work that they couldn't distribute to the general reading public otherwise. I understand that. Anyone who has kept a blog for over a decade would have to understand that. I considered doing the same for a novel I'd written, whenever I got around to seriously editing it (nope, still not done). In the long run, though, I honestly wanted my potential readers to have the option of holding a physical book in their hand, to enjoy reading the way I enjoy reading. Again, just my opinion.
I bought my second tablet last June, and it's all a tablet should be (well, I have certain specifications that aren't realistic, so I can't complain). It has a Kindle app and a Nook app, and I've used them...once? if at all. I only download stuff from jw.org, for the most part. I like the easy access to documents, but certainly not for casual book reading. Anyway, my tablet has far too much heft, so I don't really carry it everywhere.
No, I love paper books, with hardbacks or paperbacks, Everybody says this, but I love the smell of books, old and new. I'm allergic to dust mites, so at times certain bookstores bring out the Zyrtec, but like my cat love, it's generally worth the risk. There's a kind of magic (yes, Queen reference!) in entering a bookshop and encountering hundreds of titles vying for my attention. My apartment is overflowing with volumes read and unread, which is just the way I like it. The ambiance is simply gorgeous, and frankly a nice tome at home makes a lovely dance partner with a pretty teacup. I'm still a pairing aficionado. I daydream about owning a tea/bookshop, though I'm terrified of owning a business.
To sum up, I love books wrapped in paper (and leather, if I'm honest), and I'm not alone in this. I like turning pages and hearing it crinkle. I love finding receipts and photographs and leaves in used or library books. I rejoice in small poetry collections. I don't tell people with e-readers that they're doing anything wrong, because they are not, and I believe there is room for audiobooks, especially for people who spend a lot of time in cars, or who have vision problems. If I did have worse eyesight than I already have, I'd probably be grateful for being able to enlarge a font with my fingers, as large-print physical books are usually cumbersome. I do take umbrage with people who derisively refer to my preferred medium as "dead tree books", like my reading habits are what's killing the planet. In response, I brandish my signed copies of Jasper Fforde novels, and know that Thursday Next would likely prefer jumping into physical books rater than e-readers.
Nevertheless, I have no problem sharing, in digital form, more evidence that suggests the print book love is not dying off:
Happy reading, folks!
Coming Soon: My Love Manifests Itself in London...