… I’ve always been a bit sniffy about e-readers. I understand that they’re convenient, and slick, and ‘just-like-reading-off-the-page’, and ‘you-can-store-a-whole-library-in-here’, etc. But, to be frightfully honest, I just don’t care how great they are.
I can fit a book in my handbag, and if a book won’t fit, I jollywell buy a new handbag.
No one can write a message inside the front cover of an e-book. You’re not going to pick up a second-hand copy of an e-book to find ‘I saw this book and thought of you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did’ or even ‘Happy Mothers’ Day 1997, love Catherine’.
In fact, will the days of buying a book as a present be over? Electronic books certainly would hamper such a kind gift. After all, it’s rare that someone buys a downloadable music album as a present.
There won’t be any underlining, or folded corners of pages. And the more risqué e-books will never fall open at the most exciting pages.
E-books don’t smell like the back of an old person’s wardrobe. I can’t pick up an e-book and breathe it in, and sigh with pleasure.
If you drop a book in the bath, its pages curl but you can still read it once it dries. Drop an e-reader in the bath and that’s an awfully expensive bathing experience.
Similarly, if you lose a book, or leave it on a train, it’s not the end of the world. An e-reader on the other hand, is a whole new experience.
How many times has someone said “I must lend you this book! You’ll just love it.”? Last week I lent a friend a copy of Revolutionary Road, and am genuinely excited to hear his opinions of it when he hands it back. I doubt an e-book is so easy to share.
Bookcrossing. This is magical. Can’t do that with an e-reader.
I like to see how many pages I’ve read, how many I have yet to read.
I like people to see the book I’m reading and talk to me about it if they have opinions. I want to smile at someone on the train and say “I’ve read that, too. Are you enjoying it?”
I just love books, OK? As objects, they’re beautiful. A e-reader stops a book being an object and turns it into a file. It no longer has a cover, or individual pages. It no longer really exists. If I ever write a novel, I want to produce something I can hold in my hands, and feel the achievement of what I have accomplished.
I don’t want an e-reader.