I was reading an online discussion between two friends this morning. An old argument, it centered around having and reading books on an e-reader versus physical books, including making notes, highlights, writing in margins, and so on.
Just last week, I had printed out a report on my 2012 income and spending, to review with a friend who is a great financial adviser. I have categories on Quicken for everything, including books. I can tell you to the penny how much I have spent on books since 2004. He suggested I buy Kindle books instead (and this was without seeing years 2004-2011). I will only admit that my book spending from these years bumps five figures.
Really, I don’t have a problem. I can stop any time I want. An intervention is NOT necessary.
So this friend reads, and everyone in his family has their own Kindle, but he’s not a book lover. He doesn’t understand. My dad reads constantly, and loves the Kindle I gave him, but there aren’t any physical books in my parents’ home. Growing up, the books were all in my room. When I read a book, especially one that I really enjoy, I absorb it. I can go back to the book months or even years later, to look up a passage, and remember “OK, it was about halfway through the book, on the lower left side of the page, after the bit where Italy won the war” (obviously fiction). You can’t do this with a Kindle.
I have a Kindle. I bought a Kindle when they first came out, and still cost $399. I’m on my third Kindle now. You’d have to pry it from my cold dead hands. I also sometimes read books on my iPad, when I’m traveling and pack very light. You know what the problem is, don’t you, you who love books as much as you love reading?
The charge can run out right before you find out who won the Crimea War. You might be a place where the glow of electric
sex screens isn’t permissible and you need to know if Arthur found his way home. You really, really can’t sleep until you know which people survived the avalanche. You need to feel the book.
And you need a library. You need a room where you can sit in a comfy chair, peruse the shelves, and decide today is a good day to finally read a couple short stories from your collected works of Jack London or Stephen King. You need unread books in your library. You need a library to leave to your children or grandchildren. When your son comes home and announces he must read and write a book report on Huckleberry Finn or To Kill or Mockingbird or Stranger in a Strange Land or Slaughterhouse Five, it’s on the book shelf. He may already have read it.
Some books aren’t worth reading twice (or even finishing the first time through). Much current fiction is dated within a couple of decades. My beloved science books: some will be great books 50 years from now, some superseded by new discoveries, new information. Tom Clancy’s books are great, but I suspect in a few more years they will be too dated to read. My collection of books on Czarist Russia won’t be. A biography of a recent president might be interesting, but it won’t have the same insight and research as would a book about Teddy Roosevelt or Lincoln. So, Clinton or Bush goes on the Kindle, but Mark Twain’s bio needs a real book. It will always be current, while a book about the current bro-ha-ha on attempts to insert Creationism into science will not (we can hope).
And when the zombie apocalypse has arrived, and the nuclear war radiation has died down, and there is only the glow of the campfire to drive away the demons at night, we’ll have our books. Just make sure you have extra reading glasses. You don’t want to end up like Burgess Meredith.
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Categories: General Stuff!, History
Love the pictures. I totally agree, you need to feel the book. I still don’t have a e-reader. Keep telling myself when I finish up with the books waiting to be read.
If you wait until you finish your books, you’ll never get one 😉
Your haul from Half Price looks a lot like the kind of books I bring home. Only instead of Weird Texas, I brought home Weird England. Fun post!
I did buy a book when I was at the Museum of London, a couple months ago: Secret London, an Unusual Guide.
I had to laugh as I once tried to find a room without a book in it in my house. Only ONE bathroom was without. I even like to put books on guest room end tables that I think a particular guest might like. If I remember Naomi’s house is the same…books in every room. I am sometimes in a home where something doesn’t feel right, and it suddenly hits me, they have no books. I look around thinking there must be a book case somewhere. Nope. Usually the kids room has one, and if I ask the owner will say “Oh sometimes I get a paperback and then throw it out when I’m done.” Oddly, I never become friends with those people…
None of this means that, in the end, e-books won’t come to dominate book sales. My own sense is that they probably will. But, as we enter 2013, I’m considerably less confident in that prediction than I was a few years back, when, in the wake of the initial Kindle surge, e-book sales were growing at 200 or 300 percent annually. At the very least, it seems like the transition from print to electronic will take a lot longer than people expected. Don’t close that Gutenberg parenthesis just yet.
Terrific post. I loved it. It was a book lovers delight. 🙂
Thanks! books are great, aren’t they!