Thursday, March 31, 2011

For the Love of Books

I love to read. I cannot remember a time when I did not love reading. I do not love everything I read, but reading is an escape, an invitation to think, an opportunity to learn and grow.

We own a lot of books. They take up a lot of space, they're heavy when you have to move and sometimes we wish we hadn't spent the cash on the book when it's a disappointment.

We use the library a lot more now than we did back in the day when we both worked in a bookstore. The library may not have everything we want when we want it and sometimes the library doesn't have our hearts desire at all, but it is a more economical way to feed the "book a day" habit we both have.

Now that so many people are on the ebook bandwagon, I wonder what will happen to the already underfunded library system and how it will impact the people that cannot afford an ereader. (It's only $149...I love the only, because to some people, many people, me, $149 is a lot of money.)

I admit it, I've read a book on the itouch. It was a free download and it was portable and it's got the instant gratification, never have to leave my house, thing going on. It wasn't the same as holding an actual book in my hands though and I missed the feel of the paper and the whole "book" experience. It also doesn't have the same read it and pass it on quality of a traditional book. I know some of the ereaders have share options but, it's not the same.

I've also downloaded samples of books which allows me to decide whether I want to buy the real deal. The Husband tried to read one of the samples and it gave him a headache. (Safe to say he was not impressed by the experience. I've been told actual ereaders are easier on the eyes and I know my FIL loves his.)

So what happens when what we used to read in black and white goes digital? Do you think it will lose a sense of permanence? Easier to edit, sure. Is that always a good thing? Typos be gone. (Typos are the bane of my typing-impaired existence so I'm good with that, but will there be unintended consequences?)

Will libraries still have the selection and availability of new and interesting "traditional" books? Will that stop low-income people from enjoying the same reading experience of those with the disposable income that allows them to spend only $149 on a digital device plus the cost of the book? (I've heard some libraries offer free downloads now...)

It saves trees and paper. I struggle with that. But the manufacture of petroleum-based plastics has an impact on our planet too.

For now, I'll stick with the regular old books and libraries and the occasional, or not so occasional. splurges at the bookstore, using a real bookmark and turning real pages. Go ahead, call me old-fashioned. I am over 40. ;)



  1. I too love to read and that's been passed down to me from both of my folks and is living large in my daughter as well. I don't even like books on tape. To me it's a bit like getting your nutrition from a pill. Does the same basic thing but takes all the satisfation from it. Or like having a steak dinner and letting somebody else chew it for you! Just not the same. I'm headed to the library right now as a matter of fact..........

  2. I'm a library geek, I admit it. Even if our small-town library doesn't have the specific book I'm looking for, they are great about ordering it in. Unless it's something I plan on referring to or reading again, I don't bother buying.

    On the other hand, I can see where the thin electonic versions, especially if they ever get a screen-reader option, can suddenly open up a whole new world for those with visual or print disabilities. Also might be awesome for traveling-- download a couple books and you don't have to lug reading material with you!

    I like the "feel" of the book and paper too and like making notes in margins if I own the book.

  3. I'm with you on the "only $149" - Yeah. That's like those cars that are "only 25,999" - sure. Only.

    The other problems I have with the e-readers, aside from the ones you mentioned, are that most books I might be interested in, I would have to purchase to put on my e-reader. Sure, some libraries might be getting into the e-reader downloads. But, how many books are in that format? How many are the libraries going to purchase to satisfy people? What is going to happen to that human interaction? We interact with librarians.

    I'm finding that the more electronic our society gets, the less we interact with other people. Sure, reading books made out of paper means that we have to either go to a library or purchase the book at a store. But, it also means that we have to have some sort of human-to-human contact to do so. I just fear that if everything ends up going digital, eventually we're going to become solitary creatures trying to coexist "alone together" onto this planet.

  4. I love books. I am at the library at least every 2 weeks. I don't buy books because I couldn't afford my reading habit! (Or have the room to store them!)

    I don't even like reading long articles on the computer so I don't know if I'd enjoy a digital book. I honestly enjoy having a book in my hand. I like propping a book on my bathroom counter to read while I dry my hair. I like making pretty bookmarks! I like flipping open to a page.

    The library systems here have digital books for checkout. But the selection is very limited.