Thursday, December 15, 2011

The End of Books?

My family was chit-chatting the other day when a debate began over the future of books; will we have actual books or will they all have been replaced with eBooks?
I can't imagine a life without actual books in it. A life devoid of hard covers and jackets, images and thoughts-dreams-hopes, printed out in black and white. A world without the need or desire to hold beautifully bound papers. That is no world for me. 

I'm of the "You can't live with it, you can't live without it" stance on technology. I think you need a little bit of everything, in the right places for the right reasons, to balance the scales out. Too much of anything is simply too much. I'm also of the thought process that, if all the doomsday movies and books were to come true, where we have no electricity or technology, I at least want a book that I can read with candlelight. I want something to hold on to. Something to remember. I would also want my money back for all those darn eBooks.

More importantly, I want the warm and cozy feeling I get whenever I think of grabbing a book down off the shelf. Of taking it to the park and reading it in the sunlight. Of watching the pages age after years of use. I want things that only an actual book can give me. 

That being said, I completely understand if you are allergic to paper. That is a tragic thing indeed. May you have all the eBooks your heart desires. I also understand the coolness of the Nook and the Kindle. I own a Nook, for crying out loud! It's very convenient for traveling. It's incredibly handy for pre-sampling books I might want to read or buy. It's great for cheap reads that I don't care to put on my bookshelves. But it will never replace actual books for me. I want my favorite books on my bookshelves. I mean really, that's the whole point of a bookshelf, yes?

In thinking through this it also occurred to me that there's something sort of legal about a printed book. It can't be altered or changed. It can be reprinted, but you would still have the original in your hands. It's so easy to change things with technology. You can add, delete, edit - all in the blink of an eye. I can post this right now and come back tomorrow and change a few things and you'll most likely never know. The email you get from subscribing will never have changed.

I mention this point because a while back I had heard a rumor about a school that was voting out certain sections of a history book. They didn't want the kids to read about the Holocaust because it could be offending to some, disturbing to others. OK...but it happened. Terrible things have happened, those are the facts. There is no shame in learning from the past so we don't repeat our mistake in the present. We don't need our past altered to make it more beautiful or perfect. We need the truth. We need to know what really happened in order to never let it happen again and books serve as an excellent resource for documentation.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that I'm not opposed to eReaders or books in that fashion at all. I think it's great to have all of these options. I'm certain many people benefit from them greatly. I just don't ever want it to be a one-way-or-the-other situation. I want both. I want it all. 

And honestly, I don't know what I would do with a good chunk of my spare time if there was no such thing as a bookstore. I would have to find a new hobby, like maybe insanity. Insanity would probably be my next step after the world turned anti-paperback. 


Mediocre Renaissance Man said...

I agree with your stance. Even though paper can hurt my skin at times (I might be allergic), I do love my collection of real books. And any eBook I read on my beloved Kindle that I really love will likely join my collection of print books.

Because books, real books, are just plain cool.

Chantelle Says said...

Agreed. Just plain cool. :)