I’ll be the first to admit it: I have a love affair with books. Not the next iteration of their evolution, ebooks, but the real deal; the true printed word.
I’ve consumed books with a great zeal ever since I learned to read. Yes, I was the odd child in the gifted and talented classes who was reading at the collegiate level in the seventh grade. Engrossed in thick, thousand-page fantasy and sci-fi novels is how I’ve enjoyed spending my free time for nearly three decades now.
I love the tactile experience of books. The thump of your hands when you clasp a hardcover. The jagged, offset page edges some publishers use to embellish their titles. The clean smell of the paper. The colored threads at the base of hardback’s spine. The subtleties of the fonts and typefaces; a bonus if the publisher gives you a short soliloquy about the ones they chose after the author information at the back.
The entire process of picking up a book, thumbing to either the very first page or wherever you left off, and paying homage to your collection when you’re through is a wonderful experience to me. I continue to entertain the fantasy of someday owning a true library, all decked out with hardwood shelves, a leather chair, thick rugs, and those wheeled ladders to reach the taller stacks.
While I’m a full-fledged convert to digital music and have never looked back since the arrival of the MP3, I find I have great hesitation when it comes to ebooks and their ilk. There’s just something distant and cold in the act of “paging” through a text on a Kindle, and the crystalline, candy-like display on the iPad is just ripe for distraction (“Call me Ishmael…”; say, what’s happening on Twitter?). There’s no satisfaction to me in lending, returning to, or passing down a treasured text in digital format. These stories, treatises, and essays are art forms that deserve the sanctity of physical dimensions.
Rest assured, I’m no literature luddite; I’m fully enthralled with Twitter and the information streams in social media, and I do see the promises and opportunities inherit in the ebook format. I’m certainly not one to advocate against an ebook format simply because I won’t use it; you have to give the users what they want.
Nonetheless, I have no fear saying today that, as far as I’m concerned, ebooks can suck it. When it comes to settling down with a riveting dungeon crawl, an essay on astronomy, or Norse mythology, I prefer to keep it real.
Photo: The gorgeous stack of texts I received on Christmas 2010: two treatises on psychology, four sci-fi novels (three of which I’ve finished as of this post), one essay on the demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status, and a Dungeons & Dragons strategy guide. Oh, and some polyhedral dice, just for good measure.