When e-books started becoming a “thing” several years ago, I swore up and down that I would never get one. Books in their physical form have always held a sort of magic for me, and no matter how much I might love my other electronic gadgets, I couldn’t imagine giving up the pleasing feel of holding an actual bound book in my hands, or the satisfying sight of their colourful spines lined up on my shelves.
But then Peter received a Kindle for his birthday one year, and fell in love with it. He appreciated being able to control the size of the text, but was particularly thrilled with the realization that with his e-book he could have an entire library available at his fingertips, all contained within one small and extremely portable device.
So (still rather skeptically) I decided to buy one for myself and started building up my library of e-books… and was quickly enthralled. I revisited classics I hadn’t read since I was a child, bought books I remembered reading and loving but not owning, and generally went a little e-book crazy. Oh, I didn’t give up my paper-bound books – and still maintained that I loved them the best – but anything new to my library was purchased and devoured on my Kindle.
Then some of the quirks of using an e-reader started to annoy me. While I loved the ability to highlight unknown words in the text and immediately have a dictionary definition pop up, flipping back a few pages or chapters to remind myself of the details of some point that now had bearing on the current passage I was reading was cumbersome. And trying to find a specific reference without the “page memory” I always had with physical books made contributing to book club discussions a little frustrating. Not surprisingly, after a time I found myself longing for my “real” books again and so, a little disillusioned with the whole e-reader experience, I set my Kindle aside and returned to my first love.
Until a short while ago when, inspired by a movie viewing of Jane Eyre, I remembered that I had a copy of that book on my Kindle and decided to dust it off and give it another try… and some of the old love I remembered feeling began to return.
That might have been it, if it hadn’t been for last week’s combination of sickness and inclement weather that prevented me from getting to the library to pick up a couple of books I’d reserved. At first I was frustrated, then suddenly realized that I didn’t need to let such petty details prevent me from getting my hands on the books I wanted to read – I had my Kindle, after all! I bought the books, had them instantly delivered, and was in short order happily lost in their depths.
So now I’ve come full-circle.
I realize that I love physical books for their smell, their tactility, their presence.
I realize that I love e-readers for their portability, their added features, their almost-instant gratification.
I realize that I love READING BOOKS: whether physical or electronic, purchased or borrowed, it’s the words and thoughts and knowledge contained within that’s important to me.
And I will continue to devour them… in any form.
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Which book format do you prefer?