I appreciate the digital revolution; I really do. For starters, Amazon has changed my life because shopping—for everything —is so simple. I don’t tweet, but I do have Facebook friends. My cell phone is so dumb all it knows how to do is to make and receive phone calls; however I do own the latest model of the Kindle e-reader.
But after six months or so, I’ve come to the conclusion that reading a tree book—or a real book, if you will—offers subtle satisfactions that reading the same book on an e-reader simply does not, and I much prefer the real thing.
My objections to the Kindle stem mainly from the fact that you have to deal with it one page at a time. I hadn’t realized until I got the Kindle how often I fan the pages of a book, looking for information I’ve forgotten or to see what’s coming, or to see if I have time to finish the chapter before I have to struggle with the slotted spoon. I like to feel the weight of the pages on the left increasing as I read. in other words, I like to relate to the whole book at once.
Also, I like to write in my books. I figured out long ago that it’s okay. God doesn’t care. They are, after all, my books. Of course I would never write in someone else’s book or a library book (curses on those who do) but I love to scribble in mine. I like to pick up a book I’ve already read, fan the pages looking for the stars, the underlines, and the marginal notes I’ve made in my own handwriting and read those best parts again.
I like the fact that the real books have different personalities quite apart from their content. Some of them are fat, some thin. They are different colors. Some of them are friendly; some are not. As far as I’m concerned a really friendly book lies flat when it’s open, and has pages with ample margins. If there are notes, they’re in the margin or at the foot of the page, not at the end. If there are illustrations, I like them near the related text, not stuffed in the middle together. If, in addition the book is well written and tells me something I don’t already know, then it’s a good friend indeed. All e-books look more or less the same. That’s boring
I like to know where my books are—and I do. They’re on the bookshelves and I can identify them just by looking at the spines; I don’t want them dancing off into the atmosphere when I’m not looking. Finally, I love bookmarks. I collect them—and like to use them.
To be fair I should say there are advantages to the Kindle that I appreciate: you can make the type bigger, it’s easier to read lying down (something I like to do) because the book literally weighs nothing. All you have to hold is the reader itself. You can read in the dark (good if the person next to you is trying to sleep), there are lots of free books available from various sources, including the library. And if you read on the go—on the bus, in the line at the grocery store, or on an airplane or train, then I suppose an e-book is preferable to a real book. But when all is said and done, for me it’s no contest.
MY LOCATION As I write this, I’m sitting on a bench next to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. When it was built in 1862, it provided water for the city. Today it is maintained as a scenic attraction and wildlife refuge. A 1.58-mile track encircles it, and waterfowl make it their home.
Behind me is an allee of cherry trees, now in bloom. Their beauty is breathtaking. And somewhere there is something fragrant blooming. Herb is here too, reading— on his Kindle.
A perfect day.