In 1996 a large technology firm recruited me to work in online media. It was a new and exciting field and everyday people were making predictions about what role the Internet would play in our future lives. One of those predictions was that the dawn of the Internet signaled the death of the book. I remember thinking that it was a ridiculous prediction. With a graduate degree in literature and a book addiction that would rival any heroin junkie I knew this would never happen. “Non-book” people thought I was foolish, and ignorant. But it was they who were ignorant. It is they who know nothing about the love and passion that a book addict has towards their precious tomes of knowledge.
The most obvious reason why technology will never replace the book has to do with WHERE we read – in bed. Many people read in bed or on a couch and a laptop just isn’t as comfortable as a paperback. Indeed, when I was a sophomore in college my Shakespeare professor insisted that we buy all of Shakespeare’s plays in paperback instead of an anthology because he recognized this very factor. You can hold a paperback with one hand, lying down, doing yoga, breastfeeding, cooking dinner, changing diapers, etc.
Some people might suggest that Amazon’s Kindle is a replacement for the book because it is small, and can be taken to bed or read on a couch. However, you can’t write on a Kindle. Like so many bibliophiles, I write in my books. Nothing pleases me more than revisiting an old book and finding my notes, thoughts or reflections scrawled out in the margins, or even better the thoughts and ideas of somebody else.
True bibliophiles are not just interested in the stories and adventures discovered between the pages. Oh no, a true bibliophile yearns for the smell of the bookstore. They languish in the soft tranquility of the library. It is the soft touch of the pages and the visual beauty of the words. It is the smell, the feel, and the very act of holding the book that is part of the attraction. As I am typing this, books surround me. On my right is a stack of western literature textbooks and on my left paperbacks that I plan to read over the summer. My books are my adult security blanket. They provide me with the comfort of knowledge, wisdom and the answers to any question I might ever have.
I’m sure there will always be a market for e-books and for technology like the Kindle, but for me, well I’ll stick with my paperback.