Kindling new interest

There is the scent of paper, and the ability to flip through the entire book.

There’s been some debate regarding the advantages of a relatively new device called the e-reader. I know I’ve read a lot about how the paperback book’s on its way out because of the nefarious activities of the said e-reader.

I’ve heard about how an e-reader kills the reading habit, kills the production of an actual book you can hold in your hands, how it’s impossible to buy a fresh e-reader each time a book comes out (this argument’s more than a little weird). There’s also the vehement insistence that the e-reader can never replace the paperback or hardback copy of a book that’s been around for centuries.

I have an e-reader, a Kindle, and I’m an avid reader. I’ve lost count of just how many books I’ve stored in there. Is it like reading on printed paper? Well, no. While the screen mimics an actual printed page very well, it doesn’t have the feeling of holding a book in your holds. Why? Because the e-reader isn’t printed paperback, it’s a device. And it feels like one.

It functions like one, and it does some things a printed book can’t. That doesn’t mean the novel, or reference work, or autobiography, doesn’t exist. It’s all there, only presented differently. Come to think of it, I never saw an ad for an e-reader that claimed it was going to replicate every single thing a paperback book offers. Devices are devices. They are going to be different from physical books. Like apples and oranges.

Considering my own bookshelf of printed books, I wouldn’t say the paperback is going out of fashion. But that is just me. And most of the people I know love bookstores, even if they’re virtual. But that’s just us. Having an e-reader does not mean that the paperback is discounted. Not at all. There’s always the thrill of opening a crisp new book, or leafing through the worn editions of older tomes. There is the scent of paper, and the ability to flip through the entire book. That’s one aspect the e-reader cannot mimic, the scent of paper. Not any more than a smartphone can smell like a stuffed toy. These are two very different things one’s looking at here, a book and a device. Looking for the scent of one in the other is similar to searching for the scent of a jasmine in a rose.

One e-reader can store several hundred books. Buying one e-reader for each book is a moot point. Bottom line – one does not really replace the other. Technology has its advantages and it is always a good idea to adapt to convenience. If anything, the e-reader allows authors to grow, because of accessibility and availability to readers just about anywhere, even with the paperback out of print. Maybe the e-reader’s a good idea to spread the reading habit, in addition to its printed cousins. Why not have both? 

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