Monday, April 6, 2009

Demise of the Book?

I love books.
I love walking into an air conditioned library in the middle of summer, standing in it’s dim aisles, getting lost in all the stories surrounding me. I love that musty, dry smell of a book when you open it for the first time. I love how when a book is so good and it’s been read so many times that it’s falling apart and being held together by nothing more than some tape and a prayer.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a big family. There was myself being the oldest, my younger sister and my little brother and of course my mom and my step father. It was hard to get any privacy or a moment’s peace and I could never seem to just read in peace—and I would go into the bathroom and stay there for at least two hours, sitting on the floor reading.

I’d read when I was supposed to be having choir practice when I was in church, I’d read DURING church.

I loved books. I gobbled them up the way my mother and my grandmother did. My mother used to tell me that when she was pregnant with me, all she did was read and eat ice cream (I was a summer baby). And when I was pregnant with my daughter Israel all I did was read and eat ricotta cheese (it’s gross now when I think of it, but I couldn’t get enough of it when I was knocked up.)
It was inevitable that reading would become a huge part of my existence. My grandfather was a bit of a scholar, though he loved his political pursuits more than anything else. When I went to visit him at his house on the lake, he always had tons and tons and tons of books, and always encouraged reading. Me, my mom and my sister and my mother’s best friend Alice would swap books all the time. We were our own reading club.

And for the life of me, I can’t imagine going digital when it comes to book. I cannot imagine not feeling the paper between my fingers, or dragging my index finger over the text when I am particularly fascinated by something written in that book. I can’t imagine not having books lining my living room table, or my dresser at home. I can’t imagine not living in world where bookstores and libraries no longer exist.

Is Amazon Kindle and iPhone book application the beginning of the end? Will people come to prefer convenience over authenticity? I can’t imagine picking up a nifty little gadget passing itself off as a book and reading it with the same gusto I would with holding Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens paperback novel in my hand. It can’t be the same. Do I daresay that the book probably wouldn’t be as good? I don’t know.

I was reading the ‘BOOKS’ section of People Magazine, and the author Kim Hubbard said that Kindle’s charm sneaks up on you. But it’s an addition to books, not so much a replacement.

I don’t know. In this technologically savvy world we live in, for me, there is a definite fear that we could be entering a new trend of reading. To me, for me, it would be sacrilegious to even be seen holding a Kindle or reading a book from my iPhone (not that I could ever afford that phone). Unlike Miss Hubbard, I’ll gladly take the ‘pain’ of lugging books with me or carrying a newspaper under my arm—to me that’s a part of the ‘old charm’ of plain, falling-apart, good old-fashioned, non-trendy, books!