I’d like to take a moment on this Saturday afternoon to talk to you about books. That’s right bound paper that sits on shelves. Not one in particular, but as a whole.
I’m afraid people. Very afraid. We are heading down an information super-highway and left on the side of the road, the roadkill if you like, are my beloved (and yours, I hope) friends.
With change comes a lot of fear and uncertainty and in a world filled with Kindles and iPads I have tried to embrace the change. But I still dream of a library, all of my own.
I still open my paper dictionary. Still hand it over to students. Still thumb the thesaurus when I’m looking for the right word.
I love the smell of books. Old and new. A kindle doesn’t smell, at least I don’t think it does, I’d feel rude asking someone if I could smell their kindle. But looking at someone’s book it is almost guaranteed I’ll smell it.
And what about when you read your favourite bit so often you end up with little thumb prints on the page. Or the tea stain from when you laughed so hard you snorted. You don’t get those things with an iPad, they wipe clean.
I love marginalia. I like to read the last chapter before the first. I love book plates and stamps and dog-earring my favourite pages. None of which you can do with an iPad.
I love second hand books, because what if someone famous owned it first? Secondhand gigabytes doesn’t really have the same ring.
I fall asleep and often wake up with a faceful of book, but I suspect an iPad will jolt you awake instantly and leave you with a bruise.
I love bookmarks with my name on them, which are useless on a kindle.
I understand the appeal of the digital version. Lightweight, compact, easy to hold. But if I swung my handbag at an attacker with a kindle in it they’d just laugh. Swing your bag with Crime and Punishment or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows inside and…? Concussed, likely, unconscious, hopefully, escape, certainly.
I love books. As you can see. Let’s preserve what might end up the way of the record. Please. I don’t want to explain what a book is to my children someday.
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