I remember reading my last paper book. Neal Stephenson’s “Reamde,” a one-thousand page hard cover. I enjoyed the heft of it, and the way it sat open on my lap as I read in the shade of a tree, and the feel of turning the pages, and the whole experience of reading a book.
There are several books on my desk that I’m not currently reading, but I referred to them recently. I like having them on my desk. I just picked one up and flipped through it. Ah… such a pleasant sensation, the flipping of the pages. I inhaled deeply from its pages, and hugged the book, and kissed it.
Oh, paper books, you’ve been such good companions. I love you so much. I’ll miss you when you’re gone.
I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, before digital took over. I read so many books, so many long books, without the distraction of cat pictures and videos of people getting hit in the groin.
Yet, I like digital. That same childhood era brought the Atari 2600 game console into my home, and the VIC-20 and Commodore 64 computers, and so on, and so forth, until eventually the WORLD WIDE EFFING WEB.
My paper book reading has been almost entirely replaced by reading things on the web and looking at pictures of grumpy cats and watching “Gangnam Style.”
And now I’ve gone and bought the devil’s device.
A Kindle reader. The “regular” Kindle with the e-ink. Oh my god, it’s so beautiful. It inflames simultaneously my passions for “old-fashioned” reading and for cool electronic devices. For $79, I have this thin, light, gorgeous device to hold. I can easily lose myself in reading on it, but at first I had to pause every few pages and simply admire the thing.
As much as I enjoy the instantiation of a book in a giant Neal Stephenson hardcover, it seems wasteful to use up all that paper when you can read it on such a gorgeous creation as the Kindle reader. And it seems a bit more convenient and practical to carry around one small device that can hold thousands of books. I love it. It’s a pleasure to read.
Except now of course I’m opening myself up for abuse from copyright holders that want so much control over how we read, and how we use and share what we read. For example, it’s sad that I can’t really share a digital book with you, or, if I’ve been granted this rare privilege, you may be limited to reading it on Thursdays and Saturdays between 2 and 8 p.m., but only for two weeks, and then never again. Paper books had plenty of limitations, but none so petty as what the publishers have imposed on digital books.
One day we’ll fix the artificial problems with ebooks, but no matter what…
I’m always going to miss the old paper books.