Our own George W. has a thought-provoking post up pitting paper against plastic – in books. Now seems like as good a time as any to take a stand I’ll possibly end up backing away from someday.
My stepmother, who recently sold me out for one o’ them new-fangled handheld-computers-that-can-sometimes-make-phone-calls contraptions, has also been extolling the virtues of her Kindle. I think she’s trying to drag me kicking and screaming into the electronics age. I’ve dug in my heels. Yes, I swore I would never ever download music, and didn’t so much break that vow as blow it to smithereens. But books are a different matter. It’s going to take a hell of a lot of persuasion to wean me off of good old-fashioned dead-tree books.
I have my reasons. For one thing, when I purchase a book, I like it to stay purchased. There’s no guarantee of that on a Kindle.
You can’t dog-ear pages on an e-book reader. And no, electronically bookmarking bits isn’t the same.
You can’t tell which bits you’ve read over and over by letting a book fall open on a reader.
Unless you’ve got the money for dozens of Kindles, you can’t sit in the middle of a pile of books while doing research.
Kindles don’t insulate your walls.
It’s harder for visitors to browse your shelves when your library’s on a Kindle.
Books are all one size on a reader, rather than a variety of shapes and sizes.
You can’t trade in your used books.
If the power goes out and your batteries are low, you can still read a paper book by candlelight.
And there are plenty of other reasons, all coming down to the fact that I like having actual, physical, individual, substantive texts around me.
Now, there are things that work better electronically. George is right: technical manuals and encyclopedias are perfect candidates for electronic media. So are things like phone books, reference books, anything that depends on being up-to-the-minute and is obsolete nearly as soon as you get a copy. Since I got plugged into the magic of the intertoobz, haven’t needed those books of facts, atlases, or other things like that. This leaves me more cold hard cash for the kind of books that keep for years, that deserve a life of their own and an individual place on my shelves.