Mar 16, 2010

The Written Word Shouldn't Vanish

I really want one of those electronic book gadgets. They seem so cool and futuristic. On top of the nerdy, Star Trek appeal, there are some very practical reasons I want one.

I am running out of room for my books. I could buy more bookshelves but that would just be one more piece of furniture to dust. I only re-read my favorites so there really is no reason for me to keep stacks and stacks of books around.

Think of all the trees being saved by these electronic books. Libraries are even using them with download stations for you to update your reader with a “borrowed” electronic book.

I’ll be able to switch back and forth between books without carrying them around with me everywhere.  I'll save money because I won't be buying books until I'm ready to read them and I think that you can return a book within a certain timeframe if you don't like it.  I've bought so many books that ended up being duds.

My reasons for not getting one are all emotional.

The electronic page has no substance, no heft, it doesn’t feel like it’s really there. I like the feel of books, the smell of them. I like it when the publisher chooses a really good paper and font.   I like to hold the really good ones in my hands for a minute or two after finishing the last page.  Satisfied but sad that it's over.

I like seeing a book lying around the house in different spots as it’s being read. I like the pressure my unread book stack puts on me. I like to gaze at old favorites on the bookshelf and remember how the story made me feel.

No more sharing. Part of the fun of a good book is passing it along to someone else. I won’t be able to loan my reader out so it will be harder to create that bond that gets formed when you and somebody else both read a really good book.

How is an electronic device going to manage all that?


  1. I'm with you 100%!
    Same with the newspaper..You can't very well spread a Kindle out on the floor on a Sunday morning,to catch up on your favorite comix.
    When I think back on the books that had the most profound effect on me,I know that they had been gifts from folks that understood those things I needed to know,at the time I needed to know them.

  2. I totally agree. It just isn't the same to hold or look at an ebook thingy. I can't feel the same emotion with it.

  3. I so totally agree with you! :) I love love love the idea of a Kindle, but I also love love love holding a book, paging through, and seeing books on my shelf, and scattered about on the furniture. (I kinda like that kind of clutter. :) )

  4. But there is the whole tree-killing thing. That just might change my mind and tip the scales in favor of the Kindle. But then there's the look of old books...and loaning them to others...I'm so torn! Maybe we need a good balance of both in this world.

  5. I helped my son recently write a paper on this for a school project. Not enough space to post it here but electronic readers and computers are only as useful as the power that sustains them. My book collection doesn't use a bit of energy beyond the point of creation. =)

  6. Nope not happening with me...I can't read for too long on any screen... but I can read for hours a real book

  7. i also love the feel of a real book, but i have to tell you i LOVE my nook!
    just like you, i have NO space for anymore books, and my nook has been the perfect solution. the transition has been almost imperceptible, honestly.
    and there is a function on the nook where you can lend some of your books in eformat to your friends who either have a nook, or have downloaded the barnes and noble ereader thingy to their phone or computer. unfortunately it's up to the publisher which books are lendable.

  8. I have had a love affair with books for decades....way back when I could barely read and my mom took me to the Library. I have well over 500 hardback books that I still own....over the last 3 years I have donated hundreds to my Library. Most of the books I have I haven't read. I love the smell of a book, the feel of the paper, being able to read the synopsis on the cover flap, just having the physical book. Last year I bought a Kindle. I debated and debated all of the things you have. In the end I calculated what I have spent on all of the books I still have and have not read, the cost of a hard back (I rarely bought paperbacks)the cost of the Kindle and the e-book costs. There are books that I can't get on my Kindle, I have collections/series where I will always buy a hardback addition. I have shared titles (one plus of the Nook) with my daughter (I got her a Kindle for her birthday) My e-reader has not changed how I feel about the written word...just the way those words look and are accessed in some cases. I like the smallness of the e-reader, the different functions it provides, the ease of buying a book. I will never, ever read my newspaper online....I'd rather not read a paper....but the e-book thing has changed my mind a bit. I worked at a Library from 2001-2005 and am on the board. The demand for digital access even in our little town of maybe 9K on a good day is enormous. we are considering-buying several e-readers....a few kinks to iron out. So,whew...after taking over the comment sections of your blog....there are two sides and good reasons for each....I enjoy both forms of books.

  9. I love books, real books! Electronic gadgets will never be the same of the feel of a good book.

  10. Every single one of your points is (are? WHAT?!) my points. And, on top of those, a library is one of the most romantic spots for me. It is always a pleasure being there, even with stinky people taking naps. (Okay, it's only fair to admit that I wouldn't be such a fan of a new, modular and modern library.)

  11. E-Books are to books what Starbucks is to coffee,they both have their uses but there's nothing like holdig a warm mug full of coffee in your hand and inhaling the fresh brewed aroma, or looking at the books on your bookshelf and being reminded of the places they've taken you. Also there's a social aspect to real books, people see you reading it at the dental office, beach etc, and it's a conversation starter. They get to see a little bit of your life and maybe share in it.

  12. Those poor electronic book inventors! They probably thought they had the best idea ever, but they forgot that a book is more than the story it tells. The main reason I could never use one is because one day I want something like this in my house:

  13. Sling - agreed. When you pass on a book to someone you pass on a piece of yourself.

    Rae- It would come in handy in the car though. Those booklight things are a pain.

    MHP - See what I mean, you can see both sides of it.

    Grish - It seems our environmenttal footprint is huge no matter what we do.

    MC - Hard to curl up with a screen isn't it?

    ikw - I probably will get one but still buy the actual books by the authors I love. (When will I be adding yours?)

    Rosemary - This blog post and all the comments have sort of decided me on getting one. Who says I have to go all one way. The cost and space saving will make it worthwhile even if I only read some of my books that way.

    Mom - I know. I just opened a box in the basement and some of the books in there were from my grandmother. Old favorites that are more like family treasures than books.

    Booda - I am sort of torn on libraraies. I like being there with people who are also book lovers but I don't like that you can't see the covers of the books. It takes me forever to choose one.

    lady - Hi there! Happy to have been read.

    Scarlett - Once, on a plane I overheard one passenger asking another all about her Kindle. Not once did the name of the book come up.

    Miss E - I predict three shelves of papercraft and DIY books and two shelves of dog books.