I’m having an affair. With an e-reader.
Andy gave me a nook color for my birthday last weekend, and I’m completely in love with it. And feeling guilty, a little like a cheater, because since the arrival of e-readers, I have lobbied hard against them, opposed to the replacement of paper, and bindings and book jackets with these battery-operated plastic and metal tablets. I need books around me. I love the way they look, feel and smell, I love the space they take up on all the surfaces in my house, filling rooms, and making me feel surrounded by something familiar. I also love bookstores and libraries, and losing entire days sitting in aisles, looking through the stacks. I love the weight of carrying them home.
However, I love geekery, technology, gadgets in general. And the nook is all of those things. It has some pretty great upsides, besides just its compact nature. Books are less expensive, I don’t have to drive 45 minutes to B&N (which both saves me money, and lessens my environmental footprint), and if I decide I want a magazine to go with my ice cream and bad mood at 12:13am, I can have it. Immediately. Like I said, I love it. It’s amazing. But, I can’t help but feel saddened by the fact that this part of culture, of life, is changing. And that there are children who will grow up with e-readers being a staple of their childhoods, who may not know the pleasure of a chewable, waterproof book as infants, or how good it feels to rip a page out of a GoldenBook, and/or mash a banana into it. Or you know, actually just hold and read it. And while I know this won’t impact the lifelong love of reading and books that people develop, it bothers me that people won’t have actual bound books in their possession, or at least not as commonly as we do now. And what will college students use to support their coffeetables, and open windows?
So, who knows. Maybe books will go the way of 8-tracks and vinyl, and maybe not. But for now, buy them, love them, fill your life with them. Because as great as e-readers are, as my friend Dave said recently…a real book never runs out of batteries.