I have a confession. I hate eReaders. I don’t personally own one, though my husband and both of my children have them. I’ve read a handful of books on my husband’s Nook. I’ve read to my children from their Kindles. On an intellectual level, I understand the allure: They are lightweight; they store tons of books; they double as an Internet device.
To me, an eReader is lifeless. It’s like looking at a book through a glass case, where someone else controls the turning of pages. They are cold and sterile. There’s no embossing on the cover. No freshly-printed smell from the pages. I can’t run my finger along the spine, or feel the binding give just a little bit upon that first opening. There’s no making notes in the margins. There’s no visible proof that I’ve read that book 100 times before. I can’t spend hours in a bookstore, lovingly opening and savoring each potential Kindle purchase. No, that just doesn’t work!
Books. I love them. I always have. I have shelves full of them at home, and I’ve lost more to time and moves than I can count. I give them away to friends and family, and I receive them happily as favorite gifts.
It’s true that an eReader can hold hundreds, if not thousands of titles. You know what? So does this:
Throughout history, some of our most beautifully architected spaces have been devoted to the storage of books. University, city and abbey libraries stand several stories tall. Ornate cases hold ancient tomes that have stood the test of time. Librarians quietly check each shelf, making sure that our history of ideas is preserved for future generations.
With the advent of the eReader, our bookstores and libraries are threatened. Our ideas are reduced to bits on a hard drive that can be lost with a simple power surge. We devote less and less space to our public libraries, with much of the floor taken by computer systems and DVD rental space.
I would love to tour the world and see the great libraries before we fully determine them to be useless, and turn them into super-fancy Starbucks locations.
And I will continue to buy books. Real ones. Printed on paper and requiring storage space in my home. I don’t care if my bag weighs a little more when I go on a trip. It doesn’t bother me that I have to find my own light source to read. And it rather delights me that the book in my hand cannot be used as yet another means to waste time on the Internet.
Maybe it’s my age showing, but I’ll never stop loving real books.