Friday, June 19, 2009

Why I Will Probably Never Buy an E-Reader

Okay, let's set the record straight. I'm not a techie by any means but neither am I a luddite when it comes to dealing in an electronic world. I'm inordinately fond of my emails, internet message boards and ordering things online - any of which I'm away from too long makes me twitchy.

However …

The idea of reading books on an electronic device (whatever its form) just so does not appeal to me. I don't think it’s the form of the e-reader so much - hard metal/plastic, screen instead of page, etc. Although, I do love the tactile feel of paper much better. Books just seem, I don't know, warmer to me. More intimate. Now I have no problem reading technical papers or academic works on screen. In fact, I think every high school student should have an e-reader so they don't have to carry 50 lbs of textbooks on their backs every day and develop spinal problems and horrible posture! But when I'm reading for personal pleasure, there is just something about the old form that appeals to me more and I think I might have just figured out what it is.

It's not about looking at a cover. You can get beautiful graphics on screen. It's not about the tactile feel or the smell of a printed book although, like I said, it does lend itself more to the cozy, curl up on a couch or bed type of reading I like to do. I think what it is, is that I like to see the totality of a book.

I like to feel the weight of it in my hand, see its bulk on my bedside table reminding me to finish reading it already! I like to see that bound, solid 200 - 400 pages or more because, when I've finished reading it, it feels like I've accomplished something significant. If it's a keeper book then seeing it on my shelf reminds me of characters, or pearls of wisdom gained from the reading, or the feeling I had when I entered that world. I guess I will always have too many books lying around my house. But that's okay too. I think seeing the books people read tells us a lot about a person. If I saw an e-reader on a table I'd never know what the heck my friends were reading!

To me, a book is a keepsake, a memory that I can always revisit. For me, out of sight usually means out of mind. In the case of an e-reader, books imbedded into a metal box will disappear altogether for me. Seeing I've read the whole book, having the whole book in my hand, makes me appreciate even more the work it took to get there. It's existence in solid form makes it akin to seeing a painting up front and personal rather than seeing a print of it on a computer screen. It's like when I print out my WIP's and I see that pile of papers beside me I think, 'Holy Cow. Did I really write all of that?' Seeing one page at a time on a screen makes less of an impact for me, I guess.

This is not to diss e-books or e-readers, at all. I just find this weird -almost personal- connection to the physical presence of a book. It is impressive and wonderful to me. I know it is all about the words and not the form the words travel in, I know it is more environmentally friendly to use an e-format. But physical books to me are beautiful things. And so much harder for me to get rid of than if I had a click of a button to make them disappear.

No comments:

Post a Comment