I want to start off with this new-age dilemma because in these times of Kindle and E-book apps and E-version of every book online, it can get very confusing very fast.
I have a friend who refuses to read E-books for the simple fact that he finds them uncomfortable to read. This can sound like quite the simple decision to make if not for the fact that everyone (or many ones) around him care for no similar distinction. So, while they are eagerly devouring book after book that he wants to read, he’d have to wait for time to open up when he could go to the store and buy the book or if he’d been one of those online-savvy ones who order it online, he’d still have to wait until it is delivered to his door. In the meantime he’d have to go “lalalalaa” with his fingers stuck in his ears if anybody discusses the book of the moment.
I, on the other hand, do not find E-books uncomfortable at all. Though I do think that it is more a testament to my impatient nature than anything else. Waiting for a book I want to hit the stores; waiting to buy the book after it hit the stores; or in case of older books, waiting until I find the book in some corner of some corner store…I hate waiting! So, finding the book online when I want and wherever I want it, that, to me, is a god-send.
But, of course, if you present me with the book-book and e-book, I would close my eyes and pick the inked and papered variety. There is something to be said for the feel of holding a book in your hand, for the feel of a paper gently being turned, for bookmarks to serve their purpose and in the end, for the bittersweet farewell that precedes the final page being turned before closing the book.
No e-book, with its status bar telling how many pages to go rather than the heaviness in one of your hands is ever good enough. No Kindle, with its glare-free screen can ever convey the slight yellowing of an old but treasured book that is being read for the nth time. No app that opens the book where you left off can ever touch the surge of feeling that occurs when I see the bookmark sticking out of a book and count the precious hours I have left with that world.
Yes, E-books are comfortable, convenient and easy to procure. But, the other day, I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (again) and I couldn’t help the smile that came when I held the book in my hand, flipped a page with my fingers than with a click and remembered exactly where I was when I read it for the first time. I realized, maybe it’s not only snitches that have flesh memories, because every book, every actual real, ink and paper, weighted book that I have read, holds not only the story that it narrated to me, but also a little bit of my life that I, in return, poured into it. I realized, every dog-eared book I have read is a little bit me.
So, tomorrow when technology will maybe take so many bounds and leaps forward that we will not make papered books anymore, I will still carry in my heart all those moments I spent with them and of course, I will have a box of the books themselves by my bedside.