Please Don’t Make Me Read a “Real” Book, by T.D. Shields.
Don’t misunderstand me, I love books. I mean, I REALLY love books.
I read at least a few books a week, and on a really good week, I might read a dozen or more. I love to fall into a new story and lose myself in the author’s world. Some books are so magical that you can barely pause for sleep or work… some books are less transporting, but still a fun break from everyday life.
So I love books… but I don’t love “real” books. I’ve heard many people say (or post on Facebook, which is totally the same thing) that they just don’t like e-books. They prefer the smell of a real book and holding it in their hands and the whole tactile experience. I’m not going to argue – who am I to tell them what they should prefer? But here are a few thoughts from the other perspective.
“Real” books are heavy.
Does that make me sound like a complete wimp? It does, doesn’t it? Still, it’s true. One paperback doesn’t weigh a lot, but the weight adds up quickly when you read as much as I do. I remember a LOT of vacations in the years before e-books when I had at least one bag devoted entirely to bringing along enough books to make it through the trip. A big tote bag stuffed with books is hard to lug around! With my e-reader, I can bring dozens – or hundreds! – of books everywhere I go for less than a pound.
“Real” books are harder to hold.
This might just be my thing, but it’s a real factor for me. I have a touch of arthritis in my hands and wrists, and something about holding a book and closing my hands correctly to hold the pages open creates massive hand cramps. My e-reader can lay flat on my hand or on the arm of my chair and I never have to worry about the pages flipping and losing my spot because of a stray breeze.
“Real” books need bookmarks.
And speaking of losing my place in the book… whenever I’m reading a print book and need to take break, I have to find a bookmark. I cannot tell you how many bookmarks I have bought or picked up as a freebie over the years, but I can tell you that when I need to mark my spot I can never seem to find any of them. They disappear into the world of lost socks and disappearing remotes and I end up marking my place with any scrap I can find. Sure, it works, but it’s frustrating to me. I love the fact that my e-reader automatically brings me back to the right page with no effort required from me.
“Real” books get lost.
I admit to being ridiculously absentminded. I can rarely find my keys or wallet when I need them. My long-suffering husband often has to search the house to help me locate something I’ve misplaced. Just today I had to enlist the help of my husband and all the kids to track down my cell phone. (It was next to the couch – where I remembered leaving it as soon as someone else found it.) So I have OFTEN been in the middle of a great book and suddenly been cut short because I couldn’t find the book anywhere. It’s terrible! Sure, I can switch to a new book until I stumble across the missing tome, but again, the frustration looms large. I love the feature on my e-reader that lets me go to my computer and set off an alarm that helps me track down the e-reader. I need this feature for pretty much everything in my life, including keys, glasses, remotes, single shoes, the Pepsi I started drinking an hour ago, and anything else I might have touched today.
“Real” books are expensive.
It costs a lot to get a new print book; anywhere from 2x to 10x as much as the same book in e-book format. There are so many authors out there who I might have never read if I was limited to print books, because I can afford to spend 99 cents to try a new author, but $5 or more is just not in my budget. (Again, consider how many books I read in a week.) And yes, I am aware of the wonders of the library and have spent a lot of happy hours there. I love the library! But it comes back to that ‘books are heavy’ argument when I’m leaving the library with a stack of books so tall that I can barely see over it. (I’m actually not exaggerating with this description. The trick is to limit yourself to a stack no taller than your chin – then you can use your head to hold the wavering stack in place on your way to the car. Or you could be more prepared than I usually am and remember to bring a book bag to the library. Either way, still heavy.) By the way, the library has e-books, too.
“Real” books make you wait.
I’ve never grown up enough to get past the need for instant gratification – at least not when it comes to books. Is there anything worse than reaching the end of a book only to discover a major cliff-hanger? When I hit that, I want the next book immediately. As in, it’s two a.m. and I should definitely go to bed, but I wonder if the 24-hour Wal-Mart carries the next book? With e-books, if the next book has been released, I can get it RIGHT NOW.
So you can go ahead and enjoy your “real” books all you like – after all, the point is to relax with a good story and you should do whatever works best for you. And I freely admit that I still have a large library of print books – they are my backup in case of power outage or dystopian apocalypse.
But for the most part, I’m going to be over here happily enjoying my e-reader (with an enormous library at my fingertips). And if you have a new book to recommend, please point me to the download link.
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