I am the very definition of an avid reader. I can lose entire days when I have my nose in a book. One of my favorite topics of conversation with my girlfriends is what books we’re reading. It was only natural then when e-book readers were introduced for those same girlfriends to ask when I was going to get one.
How would I decorate my apartment if not with books?
My aesthetic admiration of bookshelves aside, I can’t bring myself to give up real books. I love everything about books: the colors of the covers, the weight of the pages, the way the binding cracks with repeated readings. There’s an entire sensory experience with books that can’t be replicated with an e-book reader.
Physical books also carry remnants of their past readers. I love borrowing books from friends and seeing which pages they’ve dog-eared and which sentences they’ve underlined. There’s delicious fun in opening a book purchased from a used bookstore and discovering a bookmark left behind from its previous owner. Used books make me weak in the knees.
I can see certain instances in which an e-book reader would be beneficial, most notably when reading an excessively thick book. I nearly dislocated my shoulder toting Anna Karenina around with me last fall, and I’m currently reading Infinite Jest which is so heavy that I can really only comfortably read it when it’s flat in front of me. In my opinion, though, those mild discomforts are outweighed by the pleasure I get from turning actual pages.
It might also come in handy if you were traveling extensively, allowing you to carry multiple titles with little weight. If I had done carried an e-book reader, though, on some of my long trips, I would have missed out on discovering new titles through book exchanges in hostels and used bookstores abroad. Sometimes when traveling I will bring along extra books that I have already read just for that purpose. You never know what you’re going to find. I traded a pulpy legal thriller for Special Topics in Calamity Physics in a used bookstore in Chiang Mai, and it turned out to be one of my favorite books I’ve ever read.
I hate to think of all the books I would have missed out on if I kept out of used bookstores, and there’s simply no way to replicate that feeling of discovery on an e-book reader.