Book ‘Em

There’s always been something about e-books that rubs me the wrong way.  For a while, I couldn’t put my finger on it except to sputter something along the lines of, “But…it’s just not natural!”  Needless to say, that’s not a very convincing argument.  After I got an iPod Touch, I downloaded a couple books and had to admit that it wasn’t a bad reading experience, but still just not the same as holding a solid book and turning physical pages.  Yesterday, The Anchoress posted an argument that hits at what I’ve been trying to say.

Those of you who are considering replacing your libraries with ebooks; think again. Your books are yours; you buy them, you own them, and they are the same, yesterday and today. They will not change, and they will not disappear, or suddenly be “pulled” or “unsourced” from you, as ebooks can be. And someday you may NEED them, to show your children and your grandchildren what the realities of life, of war, of social upheaval really were, before the digital age.

Beyond the experience of owning the words, I have additional reservations.  Shortly after reading that post, I read an article about parents using e-book readers to encourage their children to read more.  One parent quoted in the article points out that her son has never known a world without the internet; the assumption is that his view of the world is completely different than that of previous generations.  I suppose it’s hard to argue that point, but that’s one of the reasons that I think my future children will not be using e-book readers until they’re older.  It’s not that I’m opposed to technology.  It’s not the fact that dammit, I had to carry a backpack of 8 books on vacation and so will my children.  It’s that I want my children to understand that e-books aren’t the real thing.  I want them to experience reading as something that engages the senses: the weight of a page, the illustrations at the start of a new chapter, the smell of a new book (or better yet, an old one), the delight of a well-chosen endpaper.  I don’t want them to begin reading with a device on which every book looks the same (I mean, the Kindle is a nifty device, no doubt, but it’s so…white).  Once they grasp the experience of reading an actual book, then maybe they’ll be allowed to get into the world of e-books.   A poll in that article indicated that 32% of parents would (or have) begin giving their children ages 5-7 e-book readers.  That may be, but as for me and my house…

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2 thoughts on “Book ‘Em

  1. Margaret Mary says:

    Not to mention the whole experience of serendipity while choosing a book. Being in a library with the freedom to choose whatever caught my eye was a major part of my growing-up years. The gigantic reference book, all 34 yellow-spined books in what became a favorite series, that teeny tiny volume that was too cute to ignore – all chosen because I just happened to notice them on a shelf and picked them up to read the first page or two. I can’t see that happening in the same way with e-books.

  2. Margaret Mary says:

    I think I’ll go ahead with my plans to build bookshelves along the lines of the ones in your photo.

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