You are all going to think I’m terribly silly, but I’m really worried about something.
Actually, it’s several somethings I’m concerned about. I feel a bit foolish, but…well…here, it’s THESE:
What frightens me half to death is the possibility that these electronic reading devices could one day in the not so distant future eclipse words printed on paper and bound between two covers. Could eliminate all the diversity of size and type and paper weight and ink perfume – all those sensual qualities that add so much to my reading experience.
It could happen you know…after all, look at the music industry. Even I never buy CD’s anymore. I download all my music onto my i-pod. Why wouldn’t I? It’s so much more convenient and portable. I can carry hundreds – even thousands – of tunes around in my pocket. Not to mention tv shows, and movies, and podcasts…and yes, even books. Okay, I admit that I have a couple of books on my i-pod. But only for emergencies…those rare occasions when I’m caught out without a real book on my person.
Two of my best reading buddies (both ladies in their 70’s I might add) have E-readers, and I must admit I feel a bit betrayed. Not only because two of my best sources for book borrowing have completely dried up, but because I feel as if they’re dismissing something near and dear to my heart.
Until very recently, I had been fairly successful in ignoring these devices, as in burying my head in the sand type of ignoring. Just before Christmas, my husband said casually, “Oh, by the way, your mother was asking me whether she should get you a Kindle for Christmas…apparently she saw them on Oprah and thought you might like one.”
“Gah!” I screamed. “No!”
The scoundrel just laughed at me. “I told her I was pretty sure you wouldn’t care for that,” he said. “After all, you’re the only person I know who takes a book to bed with them even during a power outage.”
“Well, I just like to have it nearby for comfort,” I replied haughtily.
“I know,” he sighed.
And then I walked into Barnes and Noble last week, and what greets me first thing – not the usual table laden with new releases, but a huge display featuring the Nook, and two people dedicated to telling me all about it.
My fear factor is escalating.
Somehow I can’t imagine life without books, shiny new ones, but also old musty ones too. There is character in each book, in the size and heft and smell of it. There is legacy in the printed page…how do you hand down favorite e-files to your grandchildren? Where do you put sticky notes in an e-reader, how do you dog-ear favorite pages, or circle striking sentences? How can you make a decent bookstack out of downloads?
So, what do you think? Am I over-reacting? Should this ravenous reader be afraid? Are you?