Technological advancements are intended to make workers more productive and the lives of average, everyday people easier. However, I’m concerned some of these technologies are diminishing, or even destroying, those things that have brought us comfort and warmth. To prove my point, look no further than e-books.
Personally, I prefer the look and feel of a hardcover book. Holding a novel in my hands creates a bond between me and the author. I get the feeling the author intended for me to have it, to read it, and to share my thoughts about his/her work. It’s hard to evoke the same emotions with an e-book.
There’s also nothing more relaxing than going to your local bookstore or library on a rainy day, especially if they serve coffee and pastries. After perusing the shelves for your favorite authors, you select a novel and settle into a soft chair and enjoy a brew and your book. You’re in a cocoon, oblivious to what’s going on beyond the walls of the building. Electronic bookstores and libraries may save you the drive and allow you to download any book you desire, but what’s the point?
I also like owning books, real 400-page novels. I know this may make me sound a bit materialistic, but I enjoy seeing my book collection lining the shelves of my living room and office, knowing I’ve read them (or at least most of them). Over the years, I’ve collected books by my favorite authors, many first edition copies. (There are worse things to collect. I knew a guy who collected train lanterns.) I even enjoy finding new and exotic bookends to complement and better organize my collection. Seeing e-books lined on the library page of my e-reader just doesn’t give me the same sensation.
My wife has passed many of the books she cherished as a child down to our grandkids. These books contain handwritten notes and dates. She has read some of these books to them at bedtime as her parents and grandparents had done with her, turning the same pages and making the same comments about the illustrations. Try recapturing these moments with an e-reader.
As a self-published author, one of my favorite ways to promote my books is to participate in book signings. Discussing my writing and handing a reader a signed copy of my book creates a connection that can’t be recreated with e-books. Without a physical book, such events would be meaningless. I hope it never comes to that.
I get it. E-books have their advantages. They are cheaper and easier to access over the internet. E-readers are lightweight and travel better than hauling two or three hardcover novels. It’s more convenient to read an e-reader in bed with the lights off and not disturb whoever may be lying next to you. Libraries and bookstores require expensive brick and mortar buildings to store the books, while e-books can reside inexpensively on electronic media.
Even with all the benefits of e-books, I can’t imagine a world without libraries or homes without bookshelves. I can’t imagine spending hundreds of hours writing a novel and not being able to hand a signed copy to a reader. Most of all, I can’t imagine a child growing up without flipping the pages of “Green Eggs and Ham” while giggling at the same pages her grandmother found funny.