The other day, I snuffled around a bit on my bookshelves, sticking my nose into the pages of some of my favourites – The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich, You Must Remember This by Joyce Carol Oates, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, Bear by Marian Engel – and maybe it’s just me but I get nothing. A scratch and sniff sticker of Book would be absolutely blank.
We’ve all heard it: I can’t get an e-reader because I’d miss the smell, the heft, the physical form of the actual book. I read it again somewhere recently and felt so incredibly annoyed that I opted to finally put this theory to the test. Hence, the book-snorting.
I wanted to try it for myself because I recently got an e-reader and absolutely adore it.
I bought my Kobo back in December in preparation for our move to The Pas. I knew that access to books would be limited. Sure, there’s inter-library loan at our local branch or ordering through the bookstore at University College of the North or, you know, Amazon, but I didn’t much feel like waiting the seven-odd years it might take to get the texts to me.
Turns out, I’m reading way more than I have for the last little while (although that could be because I’m no longer in the grips of a 2,500 kilometre move…).
In fact, I’ve reached the point where I think I prefer e-books to hard-copy books, and it isn’t just because of the immediacy of being able to buy/rent the thing within a few minutes of hearing about it.
Turns out I don’t at all miss trying to balance a 400-page tome while my cat attempts to worm her way onto my chest. Turning the pages on the thing is an easy tap as opposed to trying to bend an elbow (which said cat may very well be lying on). Simply put, I find the act of reading much easier, especially in bed, where I probably read the most.
I think that the e-reader distills the book to its essential self: words. There is limited physical obstruction.
Granted, this also means that, yes, you sometimes lose out on striking covers which I felt most poignantly when I purchased the e-book of Susan Swan’s The Western Light, therefore missing that lovely bright Group of Seven inspired cover (but I do plan on buying a physical copy). And I don’t think I’ll ever give up the thrill of wandering through those tiny used book shops with books piled all the way to the ceiling, lain horizontal on the tops of the shelves, or going to readings/bookstores to get a signed copy.
But to argue against e-books because of the smell of the thing is to me – with my perhaps obtuse olfactory sense – totally stupid. I believe it’s what’s inside that counts. What do you think?
Photo by Ceslava
I’ve been meaning to respond to comments for awhile – off my blog for reasons stated in the latest post – but, yes, I think this is such an interesting topic. I never thought I’d be an e-reader type but I surely am. Not to say there isn’t a place for the 100-year-old books (Aunt Renie, I SO want to see that Nellie McClung – & the bad math runs in the family:) and the author-signed books and all the rest but the e-reader has really improved my quality of life/reading life! & I’m appreciative of that, as I am of the comments. Thank you!
Really interesting, Lauren… and I love the comments as well. Having worked in an independant book shop for many years, this has been an ongoing topic of contention and I’m surprised, but somehow guiltily pleased to hear the praises of the ebook 😉
I think this = new shopping excursion!
Major goof up. Nellie McClung published in 1910. Bad at math here.
My Longfellow Poems is over a century old
Sorry, my book is only 90 years old! What was I thinking.
My Longfellow Poems is over a 100 years old. Haha
really? wow…..who da thunk?
I love my Kobo which is several years old now. I ues it more than my newish ipad because it is not back lit so my eyes don’t suffer from over use as much.
I must admit I miss the cover art but I do browse book stores also.
Just want to tell you I have a book over a 100 years old written by Nellie McCung that I value, from my mother and her aunts.
I’m pretty sure hard copy and ereaders can cohabit the earth. Hope you are settling in well. Love your blog
Absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my ereader. I have never been intimidated by the size of a book, but having read, Middlemarch, Under The Dome, Name of the Rose, just to mention a few of the big heavy bastards…
I gotta say, “Bring On the ereader”. I will say that one HUGE disappointment that has come with the ereader is the CRAP editing that I’ve noticed. I’m not sure if it happens with certain publishing firms only, but it has been absolutely appalling in some cases.
I still buy books. I love the page cuts, the feel of different papers, the incredible print designs and whatever you call the decorations around the first letter on a page. I want to say illuminations, but I’m too lazy to look up the correct word.
I’m also thinking of Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King and some of their print anomolies that just made the reading that much cooler!!!!
So, I love the ereader, and I know that the little geniusii who work for/KOBO/SONY/KINDLE… will figure out how to set ANY print type, any diagram, any picture soon enough.
Give up physical books???? Hell no! It’s just a different kind of pleasure.
I’m reluctantly going to say that I agree with you.
I just finished my first book on my ! Pad and it was easier for my oldish eyes to read as well as easier to balance while negotiating with a cup of hot tea and turning pages.
The only draw-back I could find was those page numbers constantly reminding me of just how many more I had to read. (not much of a draw-back though!)
Happy Monday afternoon!