Why Paper Books Will Never Die
I finished the line and paused. Deep in thought. I read it over one more time. I folded the pale corner of the page, the coarse paper familiar against my fingers. I closed the book, a satisfying thud.
I felt the weight of the book in my hands, whilst I considered the weight of the words.
Scrutinising the cover for what felt like the hundredth time, I failed to discover its secrets. My fingers gliding over the indents and raises, my mind lost in the words I had read.
I opened the book, unfolded the page, and made a note in the margin. Then, I continued to read.
That is why, at least for me, paper books will never die.
I don’t like owning too many things. Stuff. It weighs on me, the occupation of physical space having a tangible effect on my mind.
So I try not to buy unnecessary things. I have regular clear-outs of the unnecessary things that I buy anyway. The cleared space is like a blank slate for my mind, it can move freely without those invisible restraints.
But what about books?
They take up so much space. They aren’t practical in today’s world of e-books. In my world of movement and uncertainty. I can’t carry a bookshelf with me, and I own a Kindle for that reason. But what benefit is there to real books? Is it nostalgia, or sentimentality that makes me favour them?
I think it’s more than that. A Kindle takes the soul out of a book. It delivers the words, but the words are not the full package. On a Kindle, every book weighs the same, every book is in black and white, every book has a ‘percentage read’ counter.
A book is a sensory experience, and technology dulls the senses.
Then again, maybe it is nostalgia. It must be when it is so hard to verbalise under the judgement of reason. Books don’t have souls.
But if I indulge myself a little, losing myself in what the book is telling me, the feel, the weight, the presentation, the whole package nudging me along as I explore the thoughts of another, I want to keep reading. Much more than when I’m tapping on the screen of my Kindle. It’s an unexpected practical benefit of the space-consuming paper.
I wonder how I would feel as a child now, e-books as the norm, oblivious to VHS and cassettes. Would I scoff at this illogical deference? Or would I pick up a paper book and see the benefit?
I suppose it is a very personal thing, influenced by practical restraints more than anything else. I know the esteem I hold for paper books is dwarfed by the practicality of the Kindle.
I’d like to have a little library one day, though. When I’m settled, happy not to move again, filled bookshelves will be the signature of home. Until then, I’ll keep trying to strike the balance, owning a few paper books at a time as my Kindle takes over.
But the paper books will never die.