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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30 thoughts on “The “Inconvenience” of books

  1. I have to say, I pack my Kindle fire around in my purse, and it’s every bit as heavy as a paperback. So that whole “books are too heavy” thing is bologna.

    I used to be a print book only kind of girl, and I still do read about 75% or more of what I read in print, but it’s nice to have an e-reader when you want something quick/easy, or you’re away from home or traveling.

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  2. I hear you. I bought a Kindle about a year ago and haven’t looked back. Mind you it’s mainly for practical reasons. I do most of my fiction reading on the train to and from work so its lightness is attractive. Also, knowing I have large choice of books to start when I finish one is great, too. I also cycle to the train station so often get rained on. It’s easier to wrap my Kindle in a plastic Dimmocks (“For book Lovers” – irony!) bag for rain protection that a large hardback. 🙂
    But sometimes I find a book that I think is really worth keeping beyond the apocalypse when recharging the Kindle may not be possible. Printed book all the way!

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  3. I am a bibliomaniac. I love the smell of a bookstore. Sometimes just opening one of my favorite books will make me smile. I love the tactile stimulation of multiple senses.
    That said, I have a growing number of ebooks saved on iCloud and loaded on the Kindle app on my iPad. Just today my youngest son asked if I wanted the new Kindle Fire and I was like “Why? I have my iPad.”
    What I like about the Kindle app is that I can email myself .pdf and .doc documents that are for my college courses and then I can read them in a comfy chair rather than in front of my computer. I also like to read the Kindle while I’m walking or running on the treadmill because I can make the words bigger and the pages don’t get blown all over the place.
    I pray paper books never go away. If they do, I’ll invite you over and share my library of paper gladly.

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  4. You’re preaching to the choir, here! I admit, I did jump on the bandwagon and received an e-reader as a gift, but most of the titles I have on it are free books. My ‘real book’ library is quite extensive and my e-reader will never take the place of those treasures, mainly because, as you said, once the battery power wears out, I have to switch to real books anyway. I, too, have many autographed books which I will never part with, as well as all the antique books from my grandfather. They may not be first editions, but they are like gold, to me. 🙂

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  5. I see a place for both paper and electronic. I just got a Kindle this summer, and I do enjoy it for travel. It does take up less space and weighs less than most books. But I also enjoy reading paper copies.

    We’re at a transition point with so many new technologies. But people have predicted the end of paper since at least the arrival of the personal computer. But paper is still here. Even if the brick-and-mortar stores are disappearing, Amazon and Barnes and Noble still carry the paper books. And there are signs that independent bookstores are making a comeback.

    Someday, paper books may disappear. But I wouldn’t put money on it happening any time soon.

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  6. Thank you Jenny for the visit and taking time out to write a note. 🙂 These days, reading and holding a real book almost give you that nostalgic feeling because we’re living in hi-tech times. While technology makes things a lot more convenient, I most certainly do not mind the inconvenience of carrying a bulky, authentic book.

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  7. I always made sure I had a purse big enough to hold a book. While I do still read paperback and hardbacks, I use my Kindle a lot. Most of the books I buy are only available in ebook form and quite honestly, the titles are racy. Kindle makes what I’m reading anonymus. No, I don’t like random strangers trying to talk to me while I’m reading. I’m reading… leave me be!

    Quite honestly, if I had to choose from piling books in a suitcase for vacation or loading up several on my Kindle, guess which one I’m going to do? It took me a bit to decide I wanted to go the Kindle route. I can’t count how many times I’ve finished a book and not had another one with me. It’s frustrating. That doesn’t happen with the Kindle. Plus, if a book is boring me to tears (happens!), I can switch to something else and Kindle save smy spot. I can’t count how many times a bookmark has slipped out of the book and I’ve lost my page.

    There are also a lot of titles only I would read in the household. Why clutter it up with books? We’re in the process (or my hubbie is) of either re-selling our collection or donating the books we have.

    Where must real books never go away? Children’s! I would never want to snuggle up with my kid and read from an ereader. There’s something magical about having a large book for them to handle. Plus, they’re immune for the most part from juice or peanut butter.

    I don’t think paperback will ever go out of style. However, I also believe that publishers wouldn’t be taking the chances they do now with new authors if print was the only option.

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  8. Jenny, great post, and in many ways I agree with you. I love print books and collect antique books. There is something so special about the way they smell and feel that no ebook could ever measure. But, I also have a Kobo (and want to buy a Kindle when I’m able, since my Kobo won’t read Kindle books) – with my disabilities, I often find books heavy and painful to hold, and the e-reader solves that problem on those days. I usually read several books at the same time though; some print and some ebooks. In my opinion, as long as there are readers and writers, there will be print books – may they never go out of style! 🙂

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  9. Most of the books I read are paperbacks and I thought that would always be the case. Occasionally I would read a non-fiction book that was hardcover, but most of what I read is fiction, and those titles were almost always available in paperback.

    What I enjoy most about a tangible book is that it’s simple and convenient to refer back to the front matter: table of contents, maps, prefaces, etc., and it’s also not uncommon for me to want to re-read an earlier section to make something more clear (or because I enjoyed it to much that I want to really reinforce it in my mind). That can be done with e-readers but nowhere near as easily; they just can’t operate with a secondary bookmark (or, if you must, a dog-eared page) anywhere near as well, if even at all.

    Where an e-reader is more convenient is when one is ‘on-the-go’. E-readers are lightweight, and grabbing one on the way out the door is simple. Also, purchasing an e-book is MUCH cheaper, so being able to buy an e-book for a fraction of the cost of a paper book sometimes can be the difference between whether I’m able to make the purchase or not. I much prefer the reading experience of reading a physical book for all the reasons you described. But I’d rather read an impersonal, cold, sterile presentation of a book than miss out on it entirely.

    The best illustration I have of that is my most recent book purchase. I’ve been reading George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones) series all this past year and when I finally finished the fourth in the series and started looking for the fifth, I discovered that it was only available in hardcover and the publisher had pushed back the paperback release until March 2013!! I could buy the hardcover if I wanted, but the price was just way out of my league. But then I thought about e-books (because I usually don’t). And even though I left the bookstore in deep disappointment, I was almost rushing into my house to see what the digital version of the fifth book would cost, and I found that it was very affordable! I was thrilled! I was almost short of breath as I went through the process of purchasing the book and getting it onto my Kobo, and even though the reading experience is lacking in warmth and comfort, and flipping back to the front to see where we are on the map is practically impossible, at least I’m able to continue the story and that is such a relief!

    So, for me, digital books have their place, but that place is a very distant second to owning a real book, which will always be my strong preference. To say that you own a book, knowing that you can take it off a shelf and hold it in your hands as a tangible thing, is a feeling that digital copies of books will never be able to provide, and I go that route only in rare instances.

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  10. I have a kindle, but I still buy plenty of physical books too. You can’t beat a real book. I find my kindle most useful when going on holiday. It’s hard to squeeze everything into a 20kg luggage limit (if you’re lucky enough to have 20kg instead of 15kg)!

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  11. I once thought just just like you, but that was before I bought my kindle. I still have all my old paperbacks around, but only because I don’t want to buy them over again. I found I preferred my kindle once I got used to using it. It does take some adjusting to. Like Julie I tend to be a fickle reader. Some days I pick up a book and get right into it, other days I’m bored to death. The kindle gives me a choice without needing to go anywhere and I can buy a novel and start reading it right away. Anyway, bottom line for writers and readers alike, e-books are going to be our future. It wouldn’t surprise me one day not to be able to buy paperbacks, or they will be priced so high most people won’t pay it.

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    1. “It wouldn’t surprise me one day not to be able to buy paperbacks, or they will be priced so high most people won’t pay it.”<<Ah, yes, but sadly, some publishers are pricing their E-BOOKS at as higher, or even higher (in some cases), than paperback prices. I very often am able to buy a paperback for less than the Kindle version, which is just shocking considering (as Jen says) one is tangible whilst the other is virtual.

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  12. Hi Jen!

    I feel similarly to you 🙂 I mean, I love my NOOK, I carry it with me in my purse so that I’ll have a variety of something to read while I’m waiting in line or during my lunch break at work (although, just the other day I was greeted with a “battery too low to power up” screen 😦 that’s not something that would happen with a paperback 😉 ) plus being able to instantly download a book and get to reading without ever leaving my house is quite awesome. But I also have several bookcases in my home (and not to mention the boxes of books stored in a closet) which are jammed full of books because my love of hard and paperbacks will never, ever die. I mean, I’m talking two rows of books per shelf, and yes, some even signed copies! I keep hoping that the shelves won’t bow or topple from the weight, hehehe! I love the weight of a paper book in my hand, the feel of the pages of the story shifting from right to left, the ability to flip through to a certain part seems easier than with an e-reader.

    However, I also see e-readers as an enhancement to print books and in my mind I don’t see print books ever going away. But then again, I would’ve said the same thing about the Eastman Kodak company, film, and photographic paper, too. I mean, how many of us use a digital camera instead of traditional film anymore?

    Anyways, I love both e-reader and paper book (even though my preference is paper, hehe! 😉 ) because they both provide me an escape from the everyday doldrums or stresses we face. 🙂

    Great post! 😀

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  13. Sure, some books are cumbersome. And some are not. Bigger, hardcover books are hard to fit in my bag, so I don’t carry those. I read them only at home. On-the-go I carry smaller, flatter paperbacks. I’m always reading more than one book at a time anyway, so it’s not a problem to grab one that is portable.

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  14. I can understand how people find it inconvenient, I wont take a hardback with me for example, unless I’m wearing a rucksack or have nothing else to carry. I love my kindle, it’s so convenient and easy and just slips into my bag without adding weight. However, I am such a huge lover of books, I find a certain peace when I’m surrounded by them in a book shop, I love the feel and smell and have myself a number of signed books and love the way they look on shelves. I see ereaders as simply another mode for people to read books. Real book lovers will always love and buy books in addition to having digital copies. Sometimes it’s just down to personal preference.

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  15. Okay, I have a few comments to make regarding some of your points made before I redeem myself a little. 🙂

    This:
    “How horrible it is to me to know words I’ve cherished can be discarded in such a manner, tossed aside, obliterated instead of given to someone else who may find joy in their meaning.”
    I have a kindle. I DO delete titles off my kindle when I’ve read them but that is simply to save on storage space in there. HOWEVER, I CAN put the deleted titles back on my e-reader at any time, because they’re either saved in my documents on my pc, or they’re saved to my kindle section of my Amazon a/c. ALSO, I believe in the US that kindle users have the option to ‘loan’ titles to other kindle users, whereupon they can send it to someone else for a set period of time? So they can be shared, passed on, etc, and they’re not obliterated with one push of a button. 🙂

    This …
    “More so, how can a writer who wants print books of his/her own to sign, say it’s too inconvenient to carry around a print book?”
    … I kinda get. Sounds a little contradictory, maybe.

    This:
    “When did plastic and LED lights take the place of a ‘real’ book?”
    They don’t always 100%. A lot of e-reader users still buy both. I do.

    This:
    “Just knowing the author physically touched those pages fills me with a joy no e-reader can give.”
    I hate to burst your bubble, Jen, but unless you win a copy direct from the author? Chances are they’ve never come into contact with those books you own. 🙂

    Now, before you start ragging on me for my comments, I’ll tell you this. Yes, I own an e-reader. I LOVE my e-reader. I love it for the ability to have numerous amounts of books with me when I go away, because I’m a very fickle reader whose moods dictate whether or not she can read a book, and to know I only have to flip through a few folders to find something new when that happens brings me less stress–because I can’t relax unless I know I have something on hand to read. HOWEVER, I still also love print books. Some books I have on my Kindle (whether bought or provided for review), I also have in hard copy. If I love a series/author enough, I will still go out and buy the paperback. In fact, I am seriously running out of space for my paperback collection. I love the smell of them. I read paperbacks almost as much as I read my Kindle books. I get enamoured by the covers, an effect, I’ll admit, electronic formats don’t have on me because I have to agree for aesthetic purposes hard copies can’t be beaten. So whilst I disagree with some of the points you’ve made, I do understand where you’re coming from. Although I don’t get why a reader can’t have the best of both worlds.

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    1. You make me smile, Julie. 🙂

      Let me clarify the comment about authors touching the books. That comment was only meant for the books I have that are autographed, not books in general.

      There is nothing wrong with people having both. I get the e-reader thing…I really do, but how did we survive without them? People traveled, they went to work with paperbacks or hardbacks, they rode the trains, planes and in automobiles with tangible books. Now all of a sudden, to many folks, tangible books are ‘inconvenient’. They discard reality for virtuality. Kids and pets are inconvenient but are we going to stop carting them around? Coolers are inconvenient, but we have to lug them around if we want to keep our food cold. I know these examples may be a bit extreme but when does the technology stop? When do we stop relying on ‘convenience’ and hold fast to traditions and effort?

      I hear lots of people say they read both tangible and virtual books, but there seems to be a growing number who have eliminated tangible books from their lives. They’re just not convenient.

      In response to ‘lending’ your e-books to others but only for a short time…tangible books are forever. You can gift them over, and over, and over again and there is no timeframe to read them. There is no set time the ‘giftee’ has to read the book.

      I know the debate will never be won by either side, but I do have to say, I love reading the comments. Diversity is fantastic. What a boring, dull world it would be without it. 🙂

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    2. ^This.

      I love my eReader, and if I buy a new book, I buy it for an eReader when available.

      *However*…when I have a book I read every 1-2 years (and I have a couple dozen of those) I buy a paperback. Not because I think paper is inherently better than digital, but because it is *different* and because it takes up *space.* And because it has a shelf presence, which reminds me of my affection for the content every single day when I look around my house.

      A paperback book is as much decoration as book, a sentimental item for the eyes, not just the mind. A digital book gives me *every other benefit* that I get from a paper book…but not that.

      A digital book will never smile out at me from a shelf.

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  16. I know what you mean. I don’t own a Kindle. I would like one, but in addition to real books, not as an alternative to them. I expect that for me it will be like a lot of new technology has been, I’ve been unsure at first whether I would like it, but ended up loving it and then wondering how I ever managed without it before. But I do hope that when I eventually get a Kindle, I don’t lose the love of real books.

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    1. I have actually had people tell me they bought their Kindle or their Nook with the intentions of using it as an extension. However, they have pretty much eliminated real books from their homes and now only have virtual books. I simply cannot imagine a home without tangible books. The thought boggles my mind.

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  17. I love holding a book in my hand, but I must confess I am an avid e-book reader. I travel a lot and now I can have hundred of books with me all the time. I prefer to curl up with a “real” book, but don’t think I’d give up my e-reader either.

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    1. That is good to hear. So many people have stopped buying real books all together and only purchase e-books. In your case, I can see the need for e-reader, but only as an extension of hands-on reading, not in place of.

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