My guess is that most readers of this blog have at one time or another sampled an e-reader, tablet, or equivalent technology to slowly peruse an electronic version of a book. If you are like me, you probably found them to be technologically intriguing, but also a bit detached. Compared to flipping the pages of a bound set of pulp and prose, an e-reader can have the charm of a splinter. That is not to say they are not convenient, just that they lack the companionship of a book. Who hasn’t sat up late at night, curled on the sofa, reading the last chapter of a story you simply cannot put down?
At the same time, lugging a pile of cumbersome books around can be a giant pain in the ass, especially while being transported around our sardine can world. So…if you are like me, you probably waver between the new and the old, the future and the past, the potential and the legacy, or tomorrow and yesterday. We not only go back to the future, but ahead to the past, by wavering between sleek 21st Century reading options and a traditional book that has barely advanced from Gutenberg’s Bible.
Personally, I find my Kindle (original design) quite useful and convenient for dabbling in published manuscripts by authors I am not familiar with, downloading a particularly good deal, downloading a classic, or when traveling. Otherwise, please fell a few more trees in the Pacific Northwest for yet another literary mind trip through space and time. That may be quite un-eco sounding of me, but I have yet to be totally disconnected from literature’s motherly umbilical cord of dog-eared pages. Sure. Call me an old-school mama’s boy, but nearly every person I know who owns or has owned an e-reader eventually expresses a longing for standard, run-of-the-mill books. Many may jettison their e-reader outright or shelve it away to be found centuries from now by archeologists or savvy collectors of each electronic gadgets. Who knows?
To a certain extent the revival of vinyl records may have its genesis in the same philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Who could possible enjoy reading liner notes and lyrics, or an artistic album cover in a digital world? It just ain’t the same as lying on your bed or floor to envelop one’s self the penned thoughts of favored musicians, no matter how lame their liner notes may sound today.
Perhaps, just perhaps, I am over-analyzing this topic. The plethora of options out there ought to suit most everyone’s needs. But to me, to give up books altogether for e-readers would be heresy. For I would be tossing aside many years of delightful memories that come alive with the turning of each new page in a book. Somehow, pressing a button to move to the next page doesn’t bring about the same level of literary anticipation and expectation that turning a page of paper does. My only hope is that my grandchildren and their children’s children will have the same opportunity to experience such an emotion as I have.