Change is inevitable. There will always be faster cars, improved technology and enhanced medical innovation. We are continuously adapting to the newer version of things, for efficiency and a better experience - but there is a line. Personally, I draw this line right around ebooks and microwaveable food, but I am more baffled by the concept of ebooks than I am by instant food (the latter I will talk about in another post!)
There are many reasons for my rejection of ebooks and readers, the first being that I find them impractical. While many argue that they easily fit into your handbag, they are light and have the capacity to hold libraries of books, I think that the constant care you need to take care of a tablet is beyond unnecessary. I mean, you won’t find me charging my spine books in order to read them, or the fact that I can just chuck a book in my bag and not be worried about scratching the cover. Yes, e-readers can carry hundreds of books in one go, but who wants to carry their entire book library around with them? I mean, libraries are absolutely beautiful – why would you want to deprive yourself of the chance of having one? If we all got e-readers and tablets to read books, our libraries will be huge empty rooms with a power socket to charge the tablet. Am I the only one who still wants something like this?
Moreover, I think ebooks alienate readers from the full-on reading experience. Instead of divulging into the text and knowing that you are reaching the end of a book, you have to hold this cold tablet that doesn’t change from one book to another. You are holding the exact same tablet when you read Russian epics such as Anna Karenina and War and Peace, and later when you go on to read Life of Pi and chick lit such as Something Borrowed – it’s exactly the same experience. There is no change in the static tablet – no more judging a book by it’s cover… a saying that will become derelict.
The sad fact is that this change is happening and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. Studies by American think tank Pew Research Center reported that number of print readers fell from 72% to 67% in 2012, with the number expected to further decrease this year. Trends show that an estimated 75% of Americans have now read at least one e-book in 2012 and this number will certainly rise in the coming years.
The shift from print to digital media is one that will result in a massive change in society as libraries will become dormant buildings that lack any activity. The sad fact is that children from the new generation, especially those born after 2008, will be completely alien to the concept of lending books from a library and reading spine.
Yes, change is good – but to an extent. Books have a charm that ebooks and readers cannot compete with. The unparalleled feeling of a book, the smell of actual pages and the happiness at finishing an actual books will always remain something you associate with print books. Ebooks bring a sort of robotic and disconnected experience in terms of reading since you are not engaged in the text as much as you can. Maybe I am wrong, but for me, ebook readers and tablets are linked with changes that make the human population passive in terms of reading and engagement.
My strong disposition towards books can either be blamed on Beauty and the Beast, or on the fact that I was born in 1989 – a time when technology was just surfacing. The integration of technology and innovation has been constant, and I can proudly say that I have adapted to almost everything – except for ebooks! As a literature graduate, I love books – reading reviewing, analyzing and writing about them has always been my passion – and this is probably one of the main reasons that I reject elibraries and readers. Why on earth would one go to an ebook library? It makes no sense to me, but please – dispute me if you please.
Libraries posses a unique quality of acting as sanctuaries – a place to think, be peaceful and have the accessibility to knowledge. Whenever I enter a library, regardless of the place, time or purpose, I have this magical (yes, magical) feeling inside me. It’s like entering an oasis of endless knowledge, where you can learn and browse for hours at end. It’s almost the same feeling as the one I get when I find a rare and old bookstore.
Once I stumbled across this random bookstore in Brighton and it was one of my best experiences in an old bookshop. On the outside, it looked like a normal bookstore, but once you entered there was a passage to an underground library. Books were stacked from floor to ceiling, leather-bound editions, first editions, new books and golden-edged pages – it was amazing how well-preserved the books were. The owner of the store noticed by fascination with the books and gave me access to his store-room, which was an extension of the shop. Inside the store room, there were books from every author imaginable – from tiny copies of Shakespeare to leather bound editions of Austen. Some of the book contained dedications from people who are long gone, with only their books living on in other people’s homes. This is something that ebooks will never offer to their readers – an ability to connect with another time and another reader.
Libraries and books are interlinked – there are no two ways about it. As a bookworm, I have made it a personal mission to always read spine books because I think print is the way to go – it is what I have experienced my whole life. Having been a library membership holder for as long as I remember, I can easily recall how I made the transition from the “Kids” section to the “crime-fiction”, then onto “classics” and “contemporary”. Libraries are a way of archiving your reading experience - just like book stores. You can view all the books in one go, instead of having the restricted view of a tablet’s screen. The genres are all there, open for you to walk into and browse – with no tapping or scratching your screen. One of my dreams is to visit this beautiful library in New York – this is an experience that I know will be amazing!
Despite what the statistics say, and how great everyone thinks that ebooks are, I believe that book lovers will always be drawn towards spine since we cannot let it rest in peace – the funeral of spine is not going to happen, and we should make sure that it doesn’t happen under our watch!