Traditionally printed books, like photo albums, are becoming a rare commodity. Yes, eBooks and digital storage seem to help us simplify and streamline. However, I dread the demise of print books, and I hope they’ll always have a place in our culture and lives. I’ll explain why.
Fifteen years ago, I packed my belongings in 25 boxes and moved from my ex-boyfriend’s house into my new home. Of the 25 boxes, 15 were books.
My cherished volumes followed me everywhere. They were part of my identity. I used to look through them as I would an old picture album. Each title would remind me of a time in my life; they all became points of reference.
A few years ago I had to downsize my life, and I sold most of my traditional books. It was hard to part with them. I got a hefty amount of money because many of them were of a certain value; I even had an early edition of The Brothers Karamazov. Devoid of my favorite titles, I started frequenting the local library, but I had a hard time returning the books I most enjoyed—oh yes, those late fees added up!
Then came the Kindle and the iPad. In them, I could store as many titles as I pleased, and I loved that nobody could see what I was reading on the bus or plane—Twitter for Dummies was my regular read for a while. I had everything at my finger tips; email, Internet, Facebook, Twitter, all of it! But it turned out not to be such a good thing after all. It backfired as I was constantly lured away from my reading. I blame it on all those social media sites. I couldn’t read more than a page without receiving an alert letting me know I should check my email or my Twitter feed. So, in order to regain focus and once again enjoy reading without digital distractions, I’ve gone back to print books. To me, their advantages outweigh the convenience of having all my interests stored in one handy handheld device.
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So here are my arguments in defense of print books:
- A traditional book helps you disconnect, slow down and find quiet time for yourself, a sort of oasis away from your hectic daily life.
- You can make notes in them. Yes, I realize that eReaders let you highlight and make notes in an eBook, but there’s nothing like the tactile quality of flipping through the pages and seeing where you highlighted, underlined, made a note in the margin or dog-eared a corner.
- You are more likely to remember a book in print. If you keep your favorite books on shelves you can easily go back to them. They are always on display. In a device, they’re out of sight and out of mind.
- Traditional books in your home represent who you are. Consider how much you’ve learned about a particular person by taking a look at his or her bookshelf.
- Shopping for print books in a traditional bookstore is a magical experience, a ritual for those who enjoy it. The myriad choices and the discovery of that special edition you happen to find are exhilarating sensations. And there’s nothing like the anticipation of getting home and cracking open the spine of a new book.
- When you buy print books, you are not only supporting writers and publishers but, most importantly, local brick and mortar bookstores.
I’m happy that I’ve gone back to reading my books in print form. It’s like reuniting with a long-lost friend. Print books take up space and are costly, but I find their benefits outweigh their disadvantages. Try it, you may like it!