Portable magic

19 Jan

As you are already aware, there is nothing in life that pleases me more than a good book. Well, that and a good cup of tea. I grew up in a house where books, tea, and slippers reigned supreme. There are multiple reasons why I adore books, but one of the loveliest things about books is the fact that they are portable. You can lose yourself to the narrative in any location you so desire. I am a tactile person, and I have always taken pleasure from the feel of the paper between my fingers as I turn the page. And being a collector of books, I have also always been drawn to books for the design of their covers. Let’s not even broach the subject of the interior of the book, and it’s heady scent. I could honestly spend the rest of my life in some musty old bookstore, lovingly tidying the books on their shelves.

So, to my surprise (no one was shocked more than I) I found myself rather curious about e-readers and what they were all about. While undertaking my studies at Ryerson, the topic of e-readers and e-books was all the rage. In every discussion forum, there was the ongoing heated debate of books vs. e-readers. Initially, I was of the stance that books were the superior format (for the reasons listed above) and could never fathom reading a book on a handheld device. Nevertheless, my curiosity won out in the end and I purchased an e-reader in my last term. It arrived hastily to my front door, and unsurprisingly (to me) it sat unopened in its box for nearly a month before I finally brought it out to inspect it. I recall nervously laughing as I plugged the device into the wall for the first time. The reason I had finally taken it out of its box, was that I was embarking on a bus trip to Montreal that weekend and I figured I would test it out on the bus. I must admit, I was rather impressed with how many ‘free’ titles the device held. I quickly found a title I had been meaning to read, and within seconds it was on my e-reader.

As I mentioned earlier, I have always loved books covers, and their uniquely designed covers. I was sorely disappointed at how ugly my e-reader was, and to be honest, this nearly put me off of it entirely. Nevertheless, I embarked on my journey with my e-reader in tow. My initial reaction to reading on the device was not pleasant. It sat awkwardly in my hands, and the feel of it against my skin was cold. With books, I have always been rather rough with them. Not to say that I purposely mishandle them…I just have the tendency of wrapping the front cover around the spine to the back. Never lend me your books. Let’s just say, you can always spot the books on my shelves that are still waiting to be read, as the spines are still intact. So, it only makes sense that my hands would not know what to do with an e-reader. Thankfully, I got over this hurtle, and started to recognize all of the positive features of the e-reader.

I will not bore you by listing all of the pros, but I will touch upon my most favourite features. Firstly, I simply adore that the font size can be changed. I find reading books on trains, airplanes etc. for any length of time results in a nasty headache. Problem solved by upping the font size! I read on the bus for hours, and at the end of the ride, my eyes were not sore and my head was pain free. Another fantastic feature is the fact that you can easily take notes while reading, and the notes do not interfere with the text in any way. I have started to edit manuscripts on my e-reader, and since it’s lighter than my laptop, it’s so easy to bring it along with me to a cafe, or a park or wherever. I also love how easy it is to order an e-book to your e-reader. Sometimes it is impossible to get to a bookstore, and in a scenario like that it is always nice to have the option to just purchase one on your e-reader. Not to mention the fact that it’s environmentally friendly, as there are no trees being cut down to make e-books. Before you label me as a convert, I will say that even though I have grown fond of my e-reader and the fact that it is so portable and light, I am still devoted to the traditional book format. Being a collector of books, I have not cut down on the amount of books that I am purchasing. In my opinion, there are always going to be books that should be read in paper form, and with those particular books, it would never feel right reading them on a screen. But, for those other books and for travel purposes and/or work purposes, having an e-reader certainly comes in handy. When I was abroad over the holidays, it was so nice not to have to pay for the extra weight of my luggage (sadly, I have spent big bucks on this) because I had only packed a few books plus my e-reader.

With that being said, I love books in all formats and although I will always hold a special place in my heart for traditional books, I would never part with my e-reader. Yet, as much as I am grateful for e-books, I would never want to imagine a world without books, as there is something so regal and beautiful to the traditional book…one is not simply drawn to a book because of its contents, but rather the binding of the books is what initially draws in your eye and fingertips. As efficient and portable as the e-reader is, it could never replace the enjoyment and sensation of holding a real book in your hands. But, (and this is a big one) as much as I have romanticized the traditional format of the book, the most important thing is that books are read. Whichever format they take, it is essential that there are readers. Even if these next generations opt to read only e-books, at least they are reading. Being the age that I am, I would think it a shame if a person did not have a collection of books to display. To me, these physical books tell a story beyond the stories that exist within their covers. You can tell a lot about a person by the books that line their shelves, or floors, or desktops. Not to mention the act of gift giving, and lending of books. To me, that will always be a very intimate act and a true sign of friendship…and a homage to the power of words. But I regress. I feel this way because of the time that I grew up in, and due to the influence of the people in my life. These younger generations will find a way to make their own story, and if the spike in YA sales are any sign of what is to come, I have no doubt that they’ll succeed.

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2 Responses to “Portable magic”

  1. jaimekristal February 23, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Our bookshelves sound identical… you can always tell which books I’ve read by the cracks in the spine! While I do prefer the physical book, I’m also planning to get an e-reader :0)

  2. literaryagent007 February 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Hello Jaime,

    A well-worn book, is a well loved book in my opinion 🙂 Yes, nothing will ever compare to the physical book, but I must say having an e-reader certainly comes in handy! Thank you for visiting my blog, and I look forward to reading yours.

    Cheers,
    Drea

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