Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Goodness Gracious!

WHOA! I've suddenly realized why I love books so much more than eBooks!

It sort of eluded me until now, to be honest. I had trouble pinpointing the exact reason. I knew it didn't feel right, but I didn't know why. I wasn't sure whether it was that new book smell, which enraptures readers everywhere, or something else... so I shelved the issue.

But I was just reading some ee cummings poetry online (fun fact: my favorite poets are ee cummings and Robert Frost), and I had an epiphany. Actually, the poem is still open in another tab. Let me state what I see when I click back over to it:

1) A link to the site's home page
2) Today's date, provided by the site
3) Links to "About," "Love Poems," "Song Lyrics," "Inspirational," and... um, "Links."
4) Search box
5) GoogleAds
6) A Smokey the Bear ad helpfully informing me that only I can prevent wildfires
7) A biography of e.e.cummings below the poem
8) Oh, right - the poem.

So I stared at the poem and I tried to focus on the words and I thought to myself, jeez, this feels so cluttered. I really wish I had a book of e.e.cummings poetry, because this just ain't cutting it.

And then I realized why I love books so much more than eBooks. It's because they have one purpose - to be a book.

A book is not advertising products or linking you up to other authors with similar styles. It's just a book.

A book is not categorizing and listing every book you own so you can scroll through and check out your whole library, all at once. It's just a book.

A book is not recording which books you have and haven't read, or how far you are through X book and how many times you've read it... It's just a book.

And a book is not trying to lead you back to an eBook store where you can merrily purchase more novels.


It's just a book.

It is words and it is paper. It has one purpose to serve, and that purpose is to transmit the writing.

I have an extremely short attention span. Few things suck me in these days like books do. I even have trouble writing sometimes, because I can switch so easily from Microsoft Word to the internet.

I don't want that to happen to my books. I want them to stay just books, items that serve exactly one purpose. "Read me," they say. "Read me now. Do nothing else." And I sit down, and I do.

To integrate that solace with my crazy, loud, interactive, schizophrenic, wacky digital life feels like blasphemy.

And that is why I am a backwards sort of girl who will not make the switch.

Are you also backwards? Or are you looking forward? Regardless of whether you've ePubbed - do you own an eReader? Are you planning to, or are you a stubborn son of a gun like me?

All the best,


greenwoman said...

I'm so with you here. I don't like reading books digitally. It's too easy to get distracted!

I love the smell of books, I love the feeling of a book in my hands. I love curling up in bed with a novel in the quiet, and hearing the whispery sound of turning pages. I love marking my place with a ribbon or a receipt, I love carrying a book clutched to my chest like I'm hugging the story I adore.

I've been in the presence of ereaders, and they leave me cold. I will be backwards for a long time, I think.

tamarapaulin said...

I don't own an ereader - yet. Those Kindles sound amazing, but the cheap one's screen space seems a bit small, and the big one, well, that's money I could spend on books.

cherie said...

I hear ya, sister!

My hubster has this collection of expensive, leather-bound books (with gold on the paper edges)--they are all classics and they have their own beautiful bookcase. I am IN LOVE with these books. I read them and caress their pages, and I read them again. It is a thing of beauty.

Needless to say, I don't have an ereader. ;)

Anita Grace Howard said...

OH, I loved this post. It's so true! Personally, I plan to buy a Kindle because several of my writer pals are going the epub way w/their books and I want to support and read them. But traditional books will always be my first love; nothing will ever take the place of the tactile and sensorial satisfaction that they offer.

Gracie said...

Wow. I think that that is the best ever answer for why books are better than ebooks. Thank you!

R.C. Lewis said...

Several of my students have said they're not interested in eBooks for the same reason. When they hold a book, they're not tempted by the other things they could do. (Even e-ink readers have a few games and other potential distractions.)

For myself, I go both ways. Some books, I'm happy to read on an eReader. But others (and certain situations), I want the book in my hand.

Riley said...

Oooh I get to play the Devil's Advocate! I NEVER thought I would pick an ereader over a book. I LOVE my books. I collect them. I don't even loan them out (the one time I loaned my Harry Potter book 1 to an adult co-worker, it came back ripped, wrinkled and tattered, like I'd loaned it to a 6 year old!)

So this year I decided to invest in a Kindle, as someone else said, to support my e-pubbing writer friends (And because I refuse to sit at my PC and read a book after I work on PC all day at day job and work on PC at night to write.)

Oh. My. God. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be almost exclusively e-reading, I would have laughed in their face. Haha stupid face! I read REAL books! I lay in bed in awkward positions, trying to get comfortable and still be able to turn those pages, the dust cover of the hardback slipping so I have to remove it, my arm falls asleep so I move but then the light doesn't hit my book and I'm getting a headache from squinting...

Insert Kindle. Lay in bed. Pop out built-in light. Push button. Read. Push button. Read. Push button. Read. Husband says, "Rub my back to put me to sleep." Pre-Kindle, I sigh, put my book away and turn off the light to rub his back. Post-Kindle, I rub his back. Push button. Read. Push button. Read. Rub back.

Seriously. Now, I look at my bookcase, and get p'd off that I have this brand new book in my TBR pile and I can't read it b/c it's not on my Kindle. So, I find something to read on my Kindle, or I log on Amazon and buy a new e-book to read.

So, there's 2 cents from a former anti-e-Reader forever turned to the dark side of Kindle love.

: )

Dean C. Rich said...

I love my books. I like looking at the bookshelf filled with books. I like holding the book in my hand. I don't have to worry about the batteries dying.

However, my wife does not like the amount of room it takes to store all my books! When we moved the company paid for the move, they asked me what I moved, bricks? No, just a bunch of books. My wife likes the idea of getting some sort of reader, then I can read all the books I want, and not clutter up the house with more books!

But I do like holding a book. Visitors like looking at the book shelf too. Makes for a great conversation starter.

Things will change over time. I did change from a typewriter to a word processor!

Riley Redgate said...

Michelle _ Then we will huddle in our caves together, two backwards cavewomen reading books by firelight. XD

Tamara - Also, the big one is sort of scary. My friend's mom has one, and it's like the size of a MacBook. I'm like, bro, too much!

Cherie - join me and Michelle in the cave!!! Yeah, part of my obsession might be my dad's book collection. He collects hideously old books - talking 17th century here - and they all smell amazing. We shall not be moved! =P

Anita - ooh, that's a GREAT case for eBooks... when my friends e-publish, I don't know what I'm going to do! (actually, maybe just buy Kindle for PC... as if I didn't spend enough time on this computer :P)

Riley Redgate said...

Gracie - Thank you for reading it! =]

RC - Could possibly be a generational thing. Only one of my friends has an eReader, and to be honest, almost all of my friends could easily afford one. *shrug* Also, is there any sort of pattern to the books you prefer to hold? Is it a hardback/paperback thing?

Fellow Riley (:P) - Sheesh, that is an amazing argument for a Kindle! Especially the dust-jacket-slide-y thing - I HATE that. (One of the reasons I prefer paperback.) And the thought of putting a book away to rub the hubby's back is frustrating.

Good thing I'm not married! We'll see in the future... XD

Dean - Oh man, moving books from house to house has got to be an interesting endeavor... I mean, it's hard enough for to transport 5 or 6 when I'm going on a long trip! I'll need, like, a swimming-pool-sized box for 'em.

Great conversation starters they are indeed. (And so would a typewriter be! =])

Aya said...

I completely agree with you. Personally, I think the book smell alone beats the eBook in any war, though the sensation of turning a page, of being able to flip back and forth through the book with ease, without threat of freezing or having to remember the exact page it was, or all the other negatives to eReaders...they all ruin the idea of an eBook for me. So what, if you can easily carry multiple books at a time? That didn't used to be a problem until recently.

It's ironic that Twitter sent me here right before I decided to give up on Twitter for a while.

I, too, am fairly backwards, and in fact have recently decided to conduct an experiment of interesting proportions. I will be unplugging myself from the digital world as much as I can without completely compromising my life and existence, and will therefore no longer be using the Internet for anything except the bare necessities. No social networking, no downloading, no Internet use for anything but email, maps, and Yellow Pages-type services.

Oh, and I'm giving up my cell phone, too.

I've decided to remember what it was like living, say, two decades ago. I will make one exception to this near-outlawed existence, however: I will maintain my blog and write about the experience.

I think it might interest you. If you'd like, visit my blog: www.theworldaccordingtoaya.com

tamarapaulin said...


Hubby bought a KOBO today at Chapters. (We are Canadian, eh.)

It's so freaking cute. And I made him ePub versions of all my books. We actually have discussed buying multiple copies to loan out to Beta Readers, as my booklets cost, like $10 each to print out as it is ... so they'd pay off over time. (Like 15 books later, ha ha.)

The e-ink is definitely WAY different from reading a lit screen like an iPad.

And yes, now I can buy the books from all my epubbed friends!

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

You have a fabulous blog! I'm your newest follower. I want to award you the Brilliant Writer Blog Award for all the hard work you do!

Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.

J. Lea Lopez said...

Amen, sistah! I recently bought a few books (real books!) even though I have several ebooks on my computer (don't own an ereader) that I've gotten for free over the past six months and still not read. If I'm on the computer, it's just too easy to get distracted. But I dove right into the books with no problem.

Riley Redgate said...

Aya ~ That experiment is seriously radical. And also INCREDIBLY useful for a current WIP of mine, so I'm totally subscribing/spying.

Tamara ~ I've got to admit, when electronic devices are cute, I'm a total sucker for them. The old iPod Nanos were just the most adorable things. CANNOT RESIST. Also, I don't think I've ever beta-read something printed! It's all on Microsoft Word for me - I can definitely see those costs racking up...

Deidra - Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy it. =]

J. Lea - Another thing I'm scared of is buying/having WAY too many books! My mother is also a bibliophile, so she'd probably let me buy any books I wanted if it were an electronic thing, rather than me being like "Can I have 20 bucks? I'm going to Borders (or, as it were, Barnes & Noble)." I'd be constantly distracted by the potential of getting more books. Right. Now. All. The. Time.

Stephanie said...

I'm afraid I'm an avid ereader. I've had my kindle for almost six months now, and I love it. I'm also thinking about epublishing, but that's still tentative.

I've awarded you a Liebster Blog Award. Come check it out at my blog whenever you get a chance.

Lady Gwen said...

Great post, Riley! I totally attached to my books, too. Though I confess, I have a Sony Reader. It works great for vacation, then I don't have to take a bunch of books with me - cuz you know I can't go anywhere without my books!
P.S. I'm a new Follower!

Riley Redgate said...

Stephanie - thank you for the blog award! Maybe I'll have turned to the Dark Side - er, I mean, to the eSide, by the time you ePub, if you choose to do so...

Gwen - I'm leaving for vacation today, and I'm doing that agonizing combthrough right now! "Do I want this? But I've read it 18 times... but it's so good... but I have this reading list..." *sigh*