Perhaps it’s the romantic English major, maybe it’s just my own personal nostalgia, but the idea of the extinct paper book scares me. This fear is only heightened by the fact, that I am getting more and more used to digital books, and finding them, in some cases, more helpful. My academic purposes, having things digital, makes it just so much easier to look things up if I can’t remember exactly where I read something. The thing is that wasn’t even something that I knew I had a problem with, until the technology came along. In the history of technologies, it seems that many times we don’t even realize that we need something, or that something could be easier, until something comes along that does it, or makes our lives simpler. But I have to ask to what cost?
As with everything else in life, there are gains in loses that come with technology. Those gains and loses will be different for person to person. For me, as I have stated, my gains are simplicity of research, but also, portability and access. However, I feel the loss of an art. And not just the art of the book itself, the cover art, typography, the putting together of an artifact by a whole processes of craft, but the lose of art that a person can create with it. What makes art, art, is the ability for people to find experience within it. What makes a book come alive for me as a piece of art is not only the content written within it, but the experience of the experience of a book. Or not just what is intangible, but the tangibleness of a book, what it does to your senses. The smell of a book, the smell of the ink, the smell of old pages, the smell of new pages, the way your body curves around a book reacting to its shape, length, weight, being able to actually touch the pages. All of these things create ownership of a book, it makes it yours, you have given yourself over to it, and it has given itself over to you.
That’s why I support that ebook are fine, sometimes, like fast food they are easier to grab and get what we want quicker. However, but in order to maintain a healthy literacy diet, like the recommendation that half of your grains should be whole, I say that half of your books should be printed. Let’s keep the tradition alive. I don’t know want to live in a world where my grandchildren don’t know what the hell a book is.
And one last point, nothing decorates a house more beautifully than filled bookshelves.