What can I say? I’m the sort of traveler who brings a multitude of books on any plane, train, or automobile trip. I need my pop/vacation fiction; I love reading “normal books. I need my serious, highbrow fiction; I need something spiritual; I need something educational. The e-reader lured me with its light, slim build and its capacity to house an entire library.
But when I saw an e-reader for the first time, my paranoid reaction was primarily fueled by 1960′s science fiction. Have you ever seen the episode of The Twilight Zone where a librarian in a future society is declared obsolete and sentenced to death?
Being a grade-school girl spent an inordinate amount of time in libraries, I was scared out of my mind by that episode. I had nightmares, in fact.
How, I wondered, could books, of all things, be declared obsolete? The Christmas that my dad gave my mom an Amazon Kindle as a gift, I believed I had finally seen how books could slowly be eased out of our society. Like those poor Mafiosos who join the Witness Protection Program, books would disappear quietly, and nobody would notice they were gone until it was too late.
I didn’t want to touch the Kindle and I didn’t want to understand it. (I’m aware that this makes me sound neurotic–a paranoid woman with a fear of technology. And yes, when I first saw that e-reader, that’s possibly just what I was). Flash forward to Christmas of 2011, when I bashfully told my father that what I really wanted for Christmas was my own e-reader.
So yes, I do now own a Kindle, for better or for worse.It’s mostly for the better, except for the fact that it’s much too easy for me to develop a sudden certainty that I need a particular book, and I don’t want to wait for it. And now, there’s the thrill of instant gratification: tap, tap, tap on my little reading device and boom! I own another book.
The advent of the e-reader has, indeed, changed the book market indelibly–some say it’s for the better, and others insist it’s for the worst. It’s easier than ever to self-publish any book you darn well please; at the same time, I’m watching beloved bookstores crumble and close, one by precious one.
Despite my new appreciation of the benefits of e-readers, I still believe firmly in print media: in its power, its beauty and–yes–its necessity.
And of course, there is the feel of a real book in your hands. Any book lover knows this feeling well. The pulpy pages beneath your fingers; the satisfying creases in the well-worn spine of a much-loved book. And yes, there’s the smell of books, too. Some say it’s musty; some find it off-putting. Personally, I love the smell of the inside of a book. The older, the mustier, the better.
Personally, I’m fairly certain that there will always be print books. I know that as long as there are, I will buy them, and I will check them out from libraries, too.
Digital publishing vs. traditional publishing: it’s a hot topic on writing blogs and all over the news.
What can I add to the melee of voices?
I’ll keep it simple: I love my e-reader. Nevertheless, once I have my novel published at last, I want it to exist, physically, 100, 200, even 300 years from now. If the screens of e-readers everywhere are somehow crashed and smashed in some great and horrible disaster, I want my book to exist, still, somewhere–for real, on pulpy pages that smell musty when you crack open the much-worn spine.