Imagine walking into a library. It’s a wonderful library. Your favorite library. Maybe it’s the same library you’ve been going to since you were a child. Walking through the doors, you’re greeted by a friendly librarian who has been working there for many years. A beautiful aroma hits you. The soft pages and the worn bindings of books fill the air with an incredible warmth.
You sit down with a novel. As your fingers trace the edges of each page, you get lost in time, spending hours engrossed in beautiful writing. Each turn of the page, each chapter title you flip through, you feel accomplishment in getting closer to the end, inching toward a resolution and closing in on everything coming together.
Finally, you reach the end. The back cover rests lightly on your fingertips. Closing the book, you take a deep breath.
You know what can’t give you that experience? An e-reader.
I think the best way for me to say it is that I’m not a fan of e-readers. Sure, I understand the convenience. You want to fit a trillion books (I’m estimating) into an electronic device. You want to be able to download your books like you download everything else these days. I get it, I understand it, but I do not agree with it.
I do have to admit that, since I am an English major, my relationship with books—real books—is pretty heavy and solidified. There are only a few things that exist in the world that are more fascinating than literature.
Let’s go over real books for a second. To start with, they’re portable. Surprising, right? Yes, you can take a book with you pretty much everywhere you go. You can take it on a bus, on a train and even on your summer flight to vacationland! Whether you’re reading something small like Salinger’s Franny and Zooey or something a little larger like all three Lord of the Rings books in a single volume, your book can go with you.
Another plus is that you can’t break, crack or scratch the screen of a real book because, well, they don’t have screens, which also means no finger smudges! Your real book can’t run out of batteries either. No charging, no wires. It’s always ready when you are.
While perusing Amazon, I found that e-readers can range from around $25 to almost $1,000. I can’t be the only one who thinks that’s insane. A certain older e-reader, the Boox 60 Ebook, has been marked up to a staggering $999.99. I have never spent that much money on a book. I don’t think all the books I’ve bought even add up to that amount.
Granted, most people probably aren’t going to be buying the questionable Boox 60. No, it seems that the Nook and the Kindle have become the popular ones for a lot of people, including a lot of college students. Maybe e-reader developers started with good intentions—getting more people to read, making literature more accessible, etc. But the whole e-reader business has just become another profit generator.
The Nook HD+, listed at about $200, advertises that you can watch movies and TV shows, and download several apps. The Kindle Fire is presented with Facebook and Twitter widgets on the picture of its screen. So, with these e-readers, while you’re playing Angry Birds (in space!) or using Netflix to binge-watch How I Met Your Mother or Frasier, depending on what you’re into, there’s something you’re not doing: reading a book.
These e-readers have gained a reputation for glamour and flashiness because their developers probably realized that they would make a lot more money turning them into tablet hybrids so people could download all their favorite apps and keep on shoveling out their money. It would make a lot more sense, to me at least, if people just bought a tablet and downloaded an e-reader app. It’s just another fad for consumers to buy into at this point.
This is not to say that I don’t like people who use e-readers. Again, I get why they’re buying the devices. I understand their need to play Candy Crush (kidding). But there’s something sacred about an actual book. There is something about having physical ink on a physical page between your hands. There is something beautiful about having a shelf filled with books—books of every size, of every color and in all sorts of conditions. A book collection can represent so much. This tends to fade away with e-readers. They don’t represent the sacredness of books, and they aren’t appealing. They have no history.
We have to appreciate the beauty of print. Books are amazing things. They are irreplaceable. They are timeless, and if I want to be just slightly dramatic, they are magical.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, as they say, but I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way about books.