Cartoon by The Persichetti Brothers
It is fair to say that the population of VHS’s, floppy disks, pagers, and Tamagotchis have dwindled due to their new and improved counterparts – will the same happen to our beloved books?
Popularity of the e-book has soared over the past year as readers find the sleek appearance and convenience benefits of the product highly appealing. The e-book is light and portable with a virtual database that can contain many more books than one could imagine carrying from the library. With this single surfaces tablet, many books can be read with the swipe of a finger. No slipping bookmarks, heavy loads, risks of paper cuts, or yellowing, stained pages – pretty neat, I must admit.
Already with the advances of technology in all aspects of communication and media, printing industries have suffered losses and are buckling down for the onslaught of superior smartphones and computers with their apps and internet resources. But, despite, all this, the good ol’ sheet and glue books maintain their influence in society. Just like digital notes can never replace hand-written pencil and paper ones, looking at words on a screen is just not the same. I guess it’s all about the senses…
Having each printed word in a slab of a book feels like having a world in the palm of your hand. The whole idea, concept, story created just for you from the author just able to sit on your lap. You’re not just looking at a single page, but hundreds packed to form this compact, spacially efficient block – the WHOLE COMPLETE work, not just a little piece at a time.
Cartoon by Jim Whiting
There’s nothing like moving your fingers across the pages or rifling quickly through them feeling a breeze in your face. The words are concrete and real, and so are the sheets on which they have been stamped. Each page turn is an exciting exercise as a flipping noise reveals another man behind the curtain.
The feeling of accomplishment when you get into a good read and you can see how many pages you’ve conquered and how far you have til the end. For peekers, being able to flip forward and skim the text that lies ahead just to make sure your favourite character doesn’t die. For sticklers, being able to scratch out that extra apostrophe or write in a missing letter to right the text with your own hand. I just love the idea of tracing your history with a book through all its individual pages. And the satisfaction of looking at the shelves and shelves of books you’ve collected over the years…
Cartoon by Jeffery Koterba for the Omaha World Herald
And who can deny that a book read often reflects a sentimental loyalty – yes, I’m basically trying to explain a love affair with your favourite novel. With turned up corners, faded covers, or dog ears, there’s something special about that book you’ve had for so long and almost know by heart and the battle scars it received to survive in your bag, inner jacket pocket, hands, or the wild outdoors. The wear and tear of a book shows that it’s been loved and is loved – it is valuable. The wrinkles and dents, the smell of aging paper, symbolize a friendship that does not show on a screen.
So I am biased, but I think the novelty of ink words on pulp-pressed pages compiled into something that you can see and feel in its entirety will never wear off. Old school books are for me, the real deal.
Cartoon by Sylvia Liu
I wrote the former words in August 2012, and since then have gained more appreciation for e-books. They have really opened a new world for self-publishing and save lots of money on production costs, making books more affordable. I never liked how technology continues to take over our lives, but a portable library is cool. The digital aspect saves trees too, now that I think about it. And so, in the same view as the quote which I used for the title, I would like to own an e-reader, but I love my printed library too; books will always be treasured, no matter what form they take.
Thanks for reading,