This lovely piece by Adam Sternbergh sums up exactly how I feel about books and the different media they come in.
I love hardback books for their beautiful ageless feel (I once bought a special edition of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Trilogy in Five Parts by Douglas Adams, specifically because it was leather bound with gold-gilded pages), and love paperbacks for their portability and the way that they quickly stop being pristine, uniquely imprinted with the signs of your ownership. The smell of a book, new or old, might be my favourite smell in the world. (On receiving the course books for my degree course, I spent the first half an hour with my nose in the open pages, inhaling deeply – it’s a happy memory.) The greatest thing about physical books is that you can give them to other people. One of the best gifts I have ever received was a friend’s copy of their favourite book. It was so personal, and I was touched by the thought that they wanted to share a story that they had loved with me.
That said, one of the other best gifts I have ever received is the Kindle I have now. I wasn’t just given one book, but the possibility of a whole library of books that I can carry effortlessly with me everywhere. As a bookworm, this is magic to me. I tend to read several books at the same time, being in the mood for different types of books at different times. Not having to find space, and bear the weight of, three or four books every time I leave the house is amazing. Better still, I can highlight and make notes on my Kindle books without feeling guilty about somehow vandalising something beautiful. Audiobooks keep me company every day, through a multitude of tasks.
I love books in all forms, and don’t see emerging technologies as a threat to the ‘real thing’. I think that people will always love the physicality of paper books, but any technology that allows books to take a greater place in people’s lives, encourages them to read more, and makes books and reading more accessible to everyone can only be a good thing. Books forever.
How do you feel about e-books? Do you have a preferred book format? Do you use different formats to satisfy different situations? Let me know in the comment box below.