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