Monday, October 24, 2011

Why I Like Books: Paper and Hardback

You can be a Nook or Kindle fan, and tell me that the portability of having an e-reader while you travel is absolutely superb. You can tell me that Tom Clancey’s books are too bulky to tote around. You can tell me that printed books will become dinosaurs of the reading world. And I’ll believe you.

But I will also be the first one to admit that I love printed books. I love to feel a book, to open it, to browse through its pages. I like to flip it and read the back cover blurb. I like the smell of paper. I enjoy the touch of a slick, smooth-bound book and the texture of a cloth-bound one. I like to hear the thump of a book as it closes.

During the summer when I was a child, I couldn’t wait for the local Book Mobile to wind its way through the back country roads and deliver books for farm kids to enjoy. It was a treat. There was nothing better than reading a good book outdoors surrounded by sweet-smelling clover and cool breezes.

As an adult, it was fun to watch my two sons learn the pleasures of reading. They shuttled Judy Blume books, Choose Your Own Adventure, and Encyclopedia Brown books to restaurants, on trips, and in book bags back and forth to school. They passed them to friends and reread them when they made their journey back to our bookshelves. I hope that we never quit printing children’s and young adult books. It’s a sheer joy to sees a child’s face hidden between the pages of paper, instead of pressed to an electronic screen where a touch of a button can erase the image and words in a split second.

I have a friend who says the one disadvantage of e-readers is that you no longer can see what other people are reading—at the beach, the pool, in airports and other public places. She told me she used to enjoy checking out what strangers had selected, comparing it to her reading list, and many times, striking up a mutual conversation.

Why do I like paper and hardbacks? You can leave these books anywhere you please—beside your bed or near your favorite chair. When you’re finished reading them, you can abandon them for others to enjoy in airports, doctor’s offices and places where people gather. You can give them to organizations for resale, put them in reading rooms of condo units or hospitals, or store them on a shelf at a camp or cottage for a rainy day.

You can pass that exceptional book on to a friend, neighbor, or a disgruntled traveler sitting beside you. Ask anyone in the military, serving in remote areas, how much a book can help to relieve boredom and offer comfort. My neighbor and I swap books on a regular basis. It gives us time to chat with each other, and both of us pre-screen the “good reads” for each other, not wasting time on those we know the other person won’t enjoy.   

Someday, many years from now when everything is in cyberspace, I hope there are a few favorite books, gems of the printing press, lying in dusty attics for our great grandchildren to open and say, “Oh my goodness! Here’s an original. . .[add you favorite author’s name here.]”


  1. I am more of a skeptic about the book-as-horse-and-buggy scenario than some.

    For one thing, we just returned from a cross country tour of bookstores, and I saw those places chock full of customers. For another, I hear anecdotally that some people love their readers, some love their books, and some love both for different reasons (the travel advantage you note, although I must say that I will probably always lug a tantalizing bag of books around when I go away).

    I have hopes that we humans are varied enough to embrace many media--and to cherish the real time, live interaction of bookstores.

    And I invite you as a fellow book lover to check out Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day! We'd love to have you on board :)

  2. Jenny,
    I think you're right. There are still lovers of bookstores; but in our area, many have closed except ones like Barnes and Noble. Even used book sales are becoming a thing of the past. --Judy

  3. Great post! I'm with you. I hope print never disappears. And if we're REALLY luck, the original found in an attic one day will be written by us!;-)

  4. Terrific idea, Sylvia . . why not us, indeed?

  5. I have actually boycotted all the e-reader things:) I want to hold a book, smell it (yes, I love the smell!!), devour it, shed my tears and laughter all over it!
    Great post and I'm a new follower!

  6. My husband has a Kindle. He adores it. Reads much more now than he did before I bought it for him. I still prefer paperbacks. Cringing here because I know that's not the PC thing to say, especially since my books are out in e-book format!

  7. Nay,
    I think there are three kinds of readers. Ones who are primarily sensory and who only want to read books they can see, smell and touch; those who like electronics and only want to read their Kindles; and those who like to mix it up. I have books in every room of my house so that when I take a break, I can pick one up to read. I'd have to Velcro the Kindle to me to have the luxury of reading like that. And, I like to "turn" the page of a physical book.:-) Thank you for following. Regards--Judy

  8. Julia,
    I'm with you! I like the idea of giving my books away, often to used book sales, where money can be made for another charitable cause. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Regards--Judy

  9. I enjoyed reading this article Judy. I must say that I do agree with all the points you have made. I remember the "bookmobile" when I was growing up and was always excited to see it arrive... ahhhh the joy of having a new book to read! The anticipation of going to bed at night and reading under the covers with a flashlight!

    It amuses me greatly that my youngest daughter Stephanie, to this day never goes anywhere without a book in her handbag. This she learned from "Rory Gilmore" from the TV series "Gilmore Girls". Not a bad bit of advice I must say, as I have started taking that advice myself, seeking out smaller pocket books precisely for my travels.

    Yes, I have looked at kindles, e-readers and what ever else they may be called at various electronic shops, but more so because I was curious as to how they actually work. I found them in all honesty to be quite boring and lackluster looking. No texture, no paper smell, no colourful cover to catch the eye and lastly no tempting literary snippets to tease and tantalize!

    I will continue my what some may think of as old fashioned, love affair with the real thing. Soft cover, hard cover, big or small; there is nothing like a few stolen moments or hours spent looking through all the different books that continue to entice and draw us in to that magical world that we all long to escape to now and then no matter how old we are.

    Lastly, what happens when there is a power outage or even worse, if you forget your charger!

    In the true white Canadian north we can thank our lucky stars that there are still many places to "get your hands on a book".