The “Inconvenience” of books


I have to take a moment to spew and rant, all in good fun, mind you.  Of course I welcome all comments and respect all opinions, and am in no way trying to disrespect anyone.

I’ve heard over the past week by several people how books are too inconvenient to carry around.  The words almost made me weep, especially since one of the comments came from an author who wants to see his/her books in print.  What I want to know is when did this mentality set in?  Are we too enamored by technology that we’re losing the human aspect of our existence?

I understand that print books may be cumbersome, and I understand people can’t carry around a multitude of books at a time, but to eliminate them all together?  I don’t  understand.  Print books are ‘real’.  They are tangible.  When you hold a book, four of your five senses ignite:  touch, smell, sight, hear (audio books).  In addition, many well-loved books contain notes, autographs, mementos, personal treasures in the form of pressed flowers or hair clippings or ribbons.  Old books have distinct smells; their pages have a nostalgic feel and sound as they are turned.  It’s almost as if you can breathe the history in every page.  E-readers are sterile; they hold no personality.  They cannot be signed.  They have no history.

The print book is too inconvenient.  Plastic readers are so much better.

Print books have survived the ages.  The ability to read one isn’t dependent on battery power.  A real book never ‘dies’.  It’s never unaccessible.  It will never suffer a ‘glitch’.

Why all of a sudden is there a ‘need’ to carry around so many books at one time when you can only read a couple at a time?  I hear people say all the time “I have more books on my Kindle than I will be able to read in my lifetime.”  Why?  Because you have a device that allows it?  The way I see it, though, is you don’t really have 1,000 books.  You have a portable computer that can store 1,000 virtual books.  That is not the same as having a book.

I agree that in some circumstances (people in war zones, hospitals, people who travel a lot, etc.) e-readers are a God-send.  But to the rest of us?  Do you know how many people I’ve talked to in the past week who have eliminated their real books all together  and replaced them with virtual ones?

And how can an author who wants print books of his/her own to sign, say it’s too inconvenient to carry around a  print book?  That seems contradictory.

So many people say print books will never go out of style.  That’s what they said when cd’s and digital cameras emerged and look what happened to vinyl records and Eastman Kodak.

To me, virtual books are like virtual pets.  You can collect them without needing to take care of them, without giving them a place of honor in your home, without being particular about the ones you buy or the ones that will provide you years of enjoyment.  Instead, we purchase plastic products that can hold a multitude of virtual words that can be deleted – not passed on – with the push of a button.  How horrible it is to me to know words can be discarded in such a manner, tossed aside, obliterated instead of given to someone else who may find joy in their meaning.

The written word crawls within my belly and my heart.  It tugs at my soul, my very being.  ‘Deleting’ an author’s words with the push of a button is almost sacrilegious.  I have several autographed books and holding them in my hands means more to me than  a million virtual words stored on a plastic device.  Just knowing the author physically touched those pages fills me with a joy no e-reader can give.

I will never consider it ‘inconvenient’ to carry around a print book.  It is an honor to do so, and one I will proudly hold onto and display until the day I die.  For me, Kindles and the like are great extensions to reading, but I am heart-broken when I discover people are eliminating real books from their homes.  Of course, each person is entitled to their own ideals, but I could never imagine my home without tangible books.

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