Do modern E Readers have a place in the decades old tradition of books?
I was recently lucky enough to be given a brand new E Reader as a gift. I’m clearly a very spoilt lady indeed as these things aren’t that cheap so I hear, and there quite sought after. I feel bad for saying then that my first thought when unwrapping the gift was a sense of betrayal to all of the books that I’ve read and loved and all of the books just waiting to opened and enjoyed. Surely a reading experience isn’t complete without the initial first handling of your chosen book? When you pick it up, weigh it in your hands, run your fingers along the spine and get your first taste for that book. They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, maybe that should be don’t judge a book by it’s feel?
It’s true that the cold, hard metal of an E Reader case is a far cry from the soft, worn feeling one can experience from a second hand or passed down book. The feeling that someone else has held it and manipulated it to suit their touch. The feeling can transport you to someone else’s experience and the mind wanders thinking, who held this book before me? Where has it been? There’s something strangely impersonal then about the E Reader.
Books have been around for years and years and years! they’ve out seen countless generations, lived through historical events. Imagine a book shelf in world war one for example, when all of the chaos and destruction of such a tragedy destroys lives and buildings. And yet there are rare books that surpass these times and wait still now for a new owner to claim them. Can we really let metallic, hard technology replace the real paper and ink books? I had always thought no, and if someone had told me that I would read a story from one of these devices I would have laughed off the idea as preposterous. I must sound really old saying all of this, I’m actually only 25. But I’m a firm believer in books and I couldn’t bear the thought that their traditional form that has survived and thrived for years should suffer from the blow of technology!
That said the E Reader was a gift, a very generous gift that I felt compelled to at least give a go. I’ve just finished my first ever book on it, The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, in all honestly I chose this rather purposefully because the copy I was given was in hard back form. Therefore I felt the heavy, large form of the novel could be justifiably read on my electronic book, for ease of reading…I told myself.
Now I must confess that I ‘opened’ up the story rather reluctantly at first. Yet I must also admit that the experience, once I got used to the unusual feel, wasn’t so far removed from reading a normal novel. in fact the E Reader, with it’s compact size, held a slight a benefit over the usual form of a book, which can be heavy and laborious to carry around on long journeys. The device comes with many useful features, like the bookmark option where you can ‘fold down a page’ or a page finder where you can move along to the desired page. Off course it’s not as simple or natural as flicking the books pages until you see the folded down page or number that your looking for. In reality the electronic book can be a bit fiddly and I note a little smugly; some things just cannot be replaced.
This was my experience anyway. For me a book doesn’t start with this first word or finish with the last. It starts when you get yourself comfortable, peel back the first page and inhale the century old smell of paper and pages that have been thumbed and caressed from years of use and love. And, off course for me it ends when you finish the last page, and hopefully breath a sigh of content and hug your new book close to your chest.
Many may disagree and say that this new form of technology is a break through and something to be revered? Others may side more on the air of tradition and shone this device.
Me? Well nothing will ever replace books. The joy, the experience of reading a real book; its not replaceable. All of the technology in the world cant eradicate thousands of years of tradition. Will I use my new E Reader though? The answer is yes, sometimes. When I have a hardback that’s too heavy, or maybe when if I’m travelling or on holiday? There’s benefits to the device. I don’t want to cut my nose of to spite my face and all that. But will I favour this form to a normal novel? Never.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding this discussion so please feel free to leave a comment.