In Defense of Books

Published April 11, 2012 by jrm17

Maybe it’s because I’m a huge book worm.  Maybe it’s because I was one of those weird kids one didn’t hate being sent to their room because I knew I could read.  Maybe it’s because I’m really antisocial and socially awkward.  All of those are probably true as to why I like to read and why I love books.  And that’s why I’m going to support books in their fight against technology (aka e-readers).

So, oh boy, you have an e-reader.  You have a light on it and can read a million books anywhere you want.  Well, too bad.  It doesn’t matter to me.  My books can’t die when the battery dies.  I realize that to read in the dark, book readers need a book light or a flashlight or some outside light resource, which can die.  However, the batteries can literally die on e-reader’s books.  When my lighting source dies, all I have to do is find another or flip the switch on a lamp.  I can still read my book.  When the e-reader dies, you can’t just turn on a lamp and go back to reading.  No, you’ve lost all your books until it’s recharged.  Ha!  I win.  Score one for books because they can survive.  Plus, I can read a book anywhere, too.  Don’t think your special because you always carry an e-reader in your bag.  I’ve taken a book with me everywhere I’ve gone since I could start reading (And, no, that’s not an exaggeration).

Speaking of surviving, books can survive for, well, almost ever.  I realize that technically the digital copy of a book has an eternity for a lifetime.  However, I can argue that one.  What happens when Nooks and Kindles are replaced by some super new e-reader technology?  Then you are either stuck using an old e-reader that will be hard to find books for and parts for as it ages and what kind of techie wants to use an old piece of technology?  Or you buy the new one and lose all of your books because the new technology probably won’t be compatible with your already owned files.  Doesn’t that just suck?  Well, you see, if you had actually bought the book, then this wouldn’t be an issue.  The only technology you need to read a book, you were born with.  And, while, books do start to wear and tear with age, with proper care, they last a very long time.  They can certainly last long enough to survive your lifetime.  And maybe, long enough for a few more generations to enjoy it.

Which is another point for books, you can secondhand books.  Now, I’m not an expert on e-readers so you may very well be able to give someone your digital copy once you are tired of it, but I’m pretty sure you can’t.  You can’t go to a used digital bookstore and purchase a book from decades ago.  With books, you can.  I love secondhand book stores.  They are cheap.  They are filled to the brim with books.  You can find books that are of print.  And they have that wonderful smell (something I’ll get to later).  Going to Wonder Book is one of my favorite trips to make.  The first time my boyfriend and I actually hung out, we went to Wonder book.  Plus, I’m usually confident I can find a book I want there eventually as long as it’s old enough.  All my Shakespeare and Edgar Allen Poe came from Wonder Book.  A series I read when I was a kid, I only was able to buy from there.  Most of all, they are really good about filling my Stephen Kind habit.  They have mounds of his books and I’m able to pick which ones I want with which covers I want.  I searched for over a year for The Colorado Kid because the SyFy show Haven was loosely based on it.  It was out of print and a very small novella so it proved very difficult to find.  That is, until one day when I was at Wonder Book and held it up in triumph (and may have done a littler happy dance).  Do you get that feeling of triumph when you buy a digital copy?  Can you get rid of your digital copy and make someone’s day like the previous owner of The Colorado Kid did mine?  I don’t think so on both accounts. Plus, your e-reader can have its memory fill to capacity.  It’s kind of hard to get enough books to fill a house too much (Note that I said fill a house.  You can definitely fill a room or bookcase.  I’ve basically done both so we’ll see how it goes filling a house).

Now, you may be like my oh-so-lovely professor who told us yesterday that no one likes getting secondhand copies of books because they are an old and ripped and smell.  Well, he’s not exactly a person I would associate with ever so I think he made a harsh generalization that is entirely false.  Sure, there are some secondhand books that are ripped but either you deal with it, fix it, or search for a better copy.  As for them being old, that’s kind of the point.  If it’s out of print, how else are you going to get it?  Plus, old books are the best.  And that’s because of the final thing he pointed out negatively–the smell.  E-readers don’t get that awesome old book smell.  It’s one of my favorite in the world.  It means the book was loved and it represents all the words that are inside of it, creating this wonderful story that is about to take you on a journey.  Sniff your e-reader.  What does it smell like?  Cold plastic and metal?  That’s not love.  Love is a paperback that just found a new home and is about to bring joy to it.  His statement is kind of like saying you shouldn’t buy a puppy that was given away because it’s old, smelly, and maybe a little beat up.  Those are the sweetest and cutest puppies sometimes and you can make them just as happy as they make you by giving them a new home.

My final argument in defense of actual books is that there’s no Disney princess that loves e-readers.  That would be a stupid princess.

However, there is a princess who loves books.  She even sings a song about it.  And that princess would be my favorite one ever–Belle.  I mean Beast did give her a library to win her over.  And then she taught him to read by reading Romeo and Juliet together (In the DVD version that was released a few years ago around Christmas with that really bad new song in it.  Yeah, that may have been one of my favorite Christmas presents ever).  And with a far dreamy, faroff look and her nose stuck in a book, there’s no denying she’s a funny girl, that Belle (Yeah, I may have not had to look up those lyrics because I’m super lame). I’m just saying.  Disney princesses are the best and none of them love e-readers.

I know that eventually I will probably have to give in and get an e-reader.  I will fight tooth and nail against it for as long as I can thought.  I can’t see book stores going completely out of business.  Every time I go in Barnes and Nobel, there’s a million people buzzing about.  I don’t know how long the other chains can hold on.  I mean, we did lose the best one ever–Borders–so I don’t know if Books-a-Million can last but I think Barnes and Nobel can stay strong.  Plus, books stores will never lose all their customers as long as I’m alive.  I foresee me having an e-reader but still buying books.  I don’t care if an e-reader can have me reading almost instantly.  It’s not the same and not as good.

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3 comments on “In Defense of Books

  • It’s not the same and not as good for sure, but there are some things you can only read on an e-reader, so it can be a complement to books.

    I love books, but I don’t have a big budget to buy the latest hardbacks, but since I started reviewing what I read I on my blog just over a year ago, I discovered I can read some books in advance of publication without even being obliged to review them, obviously I only choose books I think I’m really going to love, but the e-reader is brilliant – I NEVER anticipated this happening.

    Next, a writer asked me to review her book, she gave me a printed copy and I reviewed it (my second log post) and then some months later I agreed to beta review her new novel, she sent me a word doc – oh no I thought, I can’t read a book on my computer – I discovered I could convert it to a pdf and send it to my e-reader AND I could highlight passages and make notes as I was reading, to come back to later when I wanted to send feedback. I never thought I’d be doing this either.

    I like to read a few classics, this year it’s the anniversary of Charles Dickens (200 years) and Edith Wharton (150 years), that means their copyright has expired, so guess what, you can download their individual novels for free. I never thought I’d be able to do that either.

    I love my print books and wouldn’t be without them, but I have been able to quickly access other books to complement my reading and to date I’m almost embarassed to tell you how much I have spent buying e-books. €2.48 (I live in Europe) because I downloaded the entire works of Dickens, 50 novels. I’ll never read them all, but I was intrigued to discover whether I really could do that.

    Right, better go, I have an appointment at the bookstore, I’ll never stop buying real books, but I’m all for supporting writers, whether their books are printed or electronic.

    • Thanks for the comment! I agree that there are some perks to having an e-reader and they certainly help if you want to highlight when reviewing as you mentioned. I’ve always just been partial to having something more tangible and can’t find myself getting the same feeling from an e-reader. But no doubt I will give in eventually.

  • As I said yesterday, there is just something great about the smell of an old library full of old books. Had first hand experience of this yesterday. First time in a long time. 🙂 The town library was always one of my favorite spots to hang out growing up. The Librarian (Sarah Jane) knew us all by names.

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