Thursday, October 14, 2010

Holding On To The Real Thing

A friend of mine recently got a Kindle for her birthday.  She was very excited and reports that it is one of the best things she's ever gotten.  I was surprised, as she's an avid reader, and I expected that she would miss reading real books. 
She said she thought she'd miss them, too, miss turning the pages... but she's found that she doesn't, and is thrilled with her new electric book.

I am of another opinion.

I love to lose myself in every aspect of a real book.  The introduction; I love the look of the book; it draws me in closer, and I examine if from all sides.  The first touch; texture is enormously important... the feel of it underneath my fingers; sometimes course, sometimes gently worn, and the pages! Oh... the pages, some thick, and when I'm lucky, roughly hewn around the edges, or thin... like a parchment, delicate as a flower petal.  Open it up and examine the inside; the style of the font and layout of the words that splay across the pages, like the skeleton of the body held in my hands, about to be fleshed out with the story that all of the words create.  Breathing it in... the smell of a book is paramount; it tells age, care, quality... a whole other story altogether.  

Familiarity attained, I find a comfortable cozy place to curl up and lose myself in the story between the covers.  As on any journey, the first few steps are taken as there is yet another introduction, and the first few pages are turned, but before long, I am one with the characters, and hand in hand, we head out into their world, to share every experience until the last page has been turned and we take our leave of each other with the closing of the book, and the end of the story. 

I somehow cannot find this experience with Kindle. I know it's great to have the convenience (is there anywhere you could take a Kindle that you couldn't take a book? The only power resource needed for a book is the imagination and a functioning brain...) and I know that we are progressing forward technologically.  But what of libraries, whose hallowed halls I hold in a reverence on par with that of any giant old cathedral? I do not expect retrograde motion... I know that Kindle is here to stay, and it's a good option for some people.  But I suspect that it will be all the rage for a while, and then, in time to come, something nostalgic and sweet will happen...

I think it will be the same thing that happened with cd's and records.  Records made a comeback.  There's nothing like listening to an old album, with the soft rustling scratch that accompanies the songs as the needle winds it's way around and around from the outside in.  Many friends have smiled with fond sentiment when I put an old Beatles album on and we listen to the way it used to be.  

So too, will be the way of books, perhaps, in years to come.  Friends will slide them off of my shelves and open them with a reminiscent gaze, gently touching the pages, turning them slowly, and thinking how wonderful it was, once upon a time, to explore endless worlds in this way.  


verilion said...

I'm an old fuddy duddy really and as much as I embrace technology and can't write without a laptop, I just love reading BOOKS.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

AMEN Verilion!!

After I left that comment, I was so annoyed that I had to come write this post immediately; the thing was half written in my head before I even pressed the first key!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Molly said...

I agree with you. I love the feel, smell and texture of a book in my hands, before I ever read a word. I have an old tattered copy of "Rebecca" that belonged to my mother, that she got from an old flame, long before she met my Dad. It feels like one of the few threads linking me to her since she died, more than twenty years ago....

Clowncar said...

I love books, but I think I'd be fine with a kindle. the words are what are important, and their importance shines through, regardless of platform.

sure, the sensory experience is gone, and I'm not trying to minimize the glorious feel and smell of real paper pages, the heft of a book in your hand, the way a book you love gets a special place on the bookshelf.

important things, no argument. secondary, though, to the words. well written words will last forever, no matter how they are encountered.

J at said...

I sometimes miss albums...the experience is different, laying on the floor, reading the lyrics, looking at the artwork, while you listen to the songs, in order, one after another.

And yet...I adore my iPod, and the freedom it gives me to download songs and podcasts and take them with me for long walks and in the car and so on.

I doubt that the Kindle will be the death of books, but I think it has its place. For example, it seems like they'd be great for traveling, when you run the risk of finishing one book and not wanting to pack another.

I'm more of a book person, for now, but I'm a late adopter. My husband adores technology, and he loves his Nook. We'll see if I get there or not.