Alright, so the title may be a little melodramatic. Just hear me out, though. So far the population using electronic devices versus the old way of doing things is steadily inclining. We don’t write letters, we e-mail. We don’t send carrier pigeons, we text. Instead of seeing someone face to face, we call them. (Somehow we managed to get even lazier than calling and texting was born.) I’ll be the first to admit that technology can be efficient and convenient. However, I believe it’s getting out of hand with the newest sensation: the e-reader. As an avid reader and lover of books, libraries, and everything that comes with them, I find these machines awful.

Have we really gotten as lazy as to not be able to turn pages and hold a book in our hands? Is it really that difficult to use a bookmark or dog-ear a page? People who like reading enough to buy one of these contraptions make me wonder why they even bother in the first place.

“It fits so nicely in my purse!” Yeah? Well your purse is probably the size of Texas, anyway. Why can’t you fit an easy read in there when you’re waiting at the doctor? “I can download hundreds of books on my e-reader!” I have another answer for that too; get a library card where there are literally thousands of books.

I was talking with someone earlier about the wonderful benefits of owning actual books. For one-and call me weird all you want- you don’t get that wonderful book smell. Old or new, the smell of books brings me more joy than I can even tell you. Also, if you drop a book, yeah it might bend a little. But if you dropped an e-reader you would probably either break it or at least damage it more than if it were paper. Another thing is that if you get water on a book, the pages might need to dry out and be a little wrinkly, but overall no real damage is done (unless you dropped it into a lake, then recovery time might be a bit longer). Dropping your e-reader into a lake would probably be close to dropping your phone in the lake.

I know a lot of people out there are thinking that I’m some crazy tree hater that wishes that global warming continues and thinks nature stinks. I’m here to tell you that I’m the complete opposite. Think of it this way, they have special farms for “harvesting” trees in order to make paper and there are tons of organizations planting new trees every day. Recharging your e-reader and using electricity isn’t quite good for the environment, either. This adds more on your electric bill every month and would probably cost the same as having a book light or a small lamp to read by.

All I’m saying is this, when the power goes out and we’re in total darkness and here we have people reading their e-readers, I’ll be reading my normal book and smiling to myself when the e-reader runs out of battery and dies.

Perhaps this is a little more passionate than some people would like, but I believe that books need to be stood up for. I treat my books like they were my kids. (I even put them in special boxes depending on genre when I move.) So here I am telling you all; Save the books and down with e-reader!

Alissa Thomson

No biography available for this author.

11 Responses

  1. Terrell says:

    I too am a book lover and I use to share your sentiments. Now I own an eReader because of the convenience factor. I take the bus to work every day and any amount of weight I can eliminate from my bag is invaluable.

    People don’t by eReaders because they’re too lazy to turn a page or because they think it’s friendlier for the environment. They buy them because they can store a ton of books on the device and access them immediately, anywhere they go. In fact, eReaders help people read more, which you have to agree is a good thing. Also, most people who have eReaders still buy books, since some books don’t format well for electronic use.

    I found this essay on the future of libraries by Seth Godin interesting: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/05/the-future-of-the-library.html. It may help ease your aversion to ebooks, maybe not. 🙂

  2. Cindy says:

    Don’t buy one

  3. Sarah says:

    Thank you for your passionate defense of the written word and the format in which it’s delivered.

    I feel the same way when I pick up a book. I feel as though I’m meeting a new friend or becoming reacquainted with an old one. The smell is wonderful and is very nostalgic for me. But, then again, I also take time to write a couple of letters a month.

    This being said, I also use an e-reader application on my tablet. I feel that I’m getting the best of both worlds.

    I can sit in home reading my “hard copy” books surrounded by the smell. I can carry them with me. I can share them with friends.

    With my e-reader, I can travel with multiple books while taking up very little precious carry-on space. I can read in bed with the lights out without the little light falling off of the book. My husband and I can read the same book, using different devices, and be in completely different spots without losing our places. And, something I’ve found invaluable, keeping a children’s book digitally on-hand is nothing short of genius. A child reading buoys the hope of our future.

    Given the same book in paper print or digitally, I’ll always choose the paper but I have found e-readers to be extremely beneficial.

  4. Tonja says:

    I am so with you! I think e-readers have their place maybe for someone that can’t read well or is disabled in some way, but I love the smell, the feel of a book and I love the library. As my dad always said, I read EVERYTHING, thus having a little useless knowledge about lots of things! Don’t even have a smart phone, did go to a laptop and no landline, but will never give up my books, will just go to large print!

  5. Steve says:

    I was with you until I actually tried a kindle. I’m a convert, and I’ll never go back.

    With the Kindle, I always have my books with me, even when I don’t have the Kindle. I can also read the same book on any computer or pad, or on my phone. So, if I’m waiting at the DMV for an hour, I always have my “book.”

    I’m also one of those people who reads more than one book at a time. I usually have a couple non-fiction and a couple fiction books going at once. With the e-reader, I can switch between them at my convenience.

    For students, this could mean the end of 10 lbs text books. My daughter weighs about 80 lbs and routinely lugs 40 lbs of books and laptop to and from school. Wouldn’t it be great to put an end to that altogether?

    One other thing I REALLY like is when I finish a book, I can always get another one in a few minutes.

    And the battery on a kindle lasts for weeks between charges. It doesn’t do a bunch of things, but it sure does books well. 🙂

    I challenge you to give it a shot. Try one for a month, and I bet you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. And please, let me know how it goes!

  6. Sue says:

    I am a confirmed bibliofile, and have been since…well, forever. Yes, I love books, their feel, smell, weight, etc. The floor-to-ceiling bookcases that take up one LR wall testify to that. I adore libraries. And yes, e-readers seem to have a place in our highly mobile world. But one thing I don’t see mentioned in all the book vs. e-reader debates. The rare metals, etc. used in our fabulous mobile devices (like cadmium). Cell phones, readers, etc. Civil wars in desperately poor nations are being financed and/or fought over the control of these resources. People are dying so we don’t have to use a phone booth anymore. Oh yeah, I have a cell phone, largely so my child and her school can reach me whenever. I’m good at justifying the thing. And I’ll recycle it once I ever get rid of its little ancient self. Pat me on my vaguely green head. I guess my hope here is that each one of us pauses a moment before we get the new, the latest and lightest, and think about the consequences of what we set in motion. There’s slow food, and maybe we can be a little slower to consume the rest of our piles of stuff, too.

  7. Spost says:

    I used to feel the same way about print books until I received my latest purchase—a trade paperback with such small type that I couldn’t read it even with my glasses. Got Sony Reader few weeks after and haven’t looked back.

    I can change the font size to something that a 20-something book designer would never even consider and can read without glasses on if I want to.

    My ereader always shows perfectly flat pages. No more trying to balance a thick hard-cover in bed at night—my ereader is super light and I can hold it with one hand without any effort.

    No more pages that are turning yellow with age. No more trying to decide which books to give away due to lack of shelf space.

    Looking up a word in dictionary that is just a tap away exactly when you need it is so much easier than finding the word in a separate print dictionary! You’ll actually do it much more often because of the convenience.

    There are so many benefits to ereading that I can’t even think about going back to print. But the biggest surprise was that after few months of using ereader I discovered that it is not the books I love and am addicted to—it is the stories!

  8. SPost says:

    There is actually one (too me) very important benefit to ebooks that I forgot to mention: NO MORE OUT-OF-PRINT!

    There is basically no need for books to be out-of-print. No need to pay exorbitant prices for books you desire to read because they are not in print anymore. Especially since those prices do not benefit the author of the work.

    But I want to also address some of the points you made in your article, if I may:

    “Have we really gotten as lazy as to not being able to turn pages and hold the book in our hands?” << People are not buying ereaders to avoid turning pages. Not being able to “turn” pages is actually a negative for many potential e-reader users. So much so that some devices actually simulate page turns for the user. But one surprise for me was how much faster I read when I am not turning physical pages. You see, most e-readers have 5 to 6 inch screen (somewhat similar to mass paperback page). With print, your eyes must travel from left page, to right page, to next left page, etc. With e-reader, my eyes remain focused on the screen and only my finger taps to advance to next page. My finger is always on that button so there is no need for my eyes to move away from the screen. My estimate is that I unintentionally read at least 15% faster. “Is it really that difficult to use a bookmark or dog-ear a page?” << Again, this is not the reason why people buy e-readers. But being able to return to the last page I read in the ebook without having to place bookmark is super-useful. “People who like reading enough to buy one of these contraptions make me wonder why they even bother in the first place.” << Not very fair statement. As I wrote earlier, for some it is not the physical book that is important, but rather the story contained in the book. If the writing is bad, even the most beautiful print book will not make it enjoyable. But you could also make similar claim about all those fools who replaced their VHS tapes with DVDs. Why did they even bother with VHS if they are so willing to jump on these DVD “contraptions”? ” ‘I can download hundreds of books on my e-reader!’ I have another answer for that too; get a library card where there are literally thousands of books.” << My library has a limit on the number of books I can take out and I also must to return them before deadline. I may be in a minority, but the older I get the more I dislike (some) used books. Especially when previous reader decided it was acceptable to dog-ear pages of a library book. 🙂 “But if you dropped an e-reader you would probably either break it or at least damage it more than if it were paper.” << You are probably right, but it depends on how well is your e-reader built. I dropped my reader several times without any damage at all. But, I also keep the device in a cover to minimize potential damage. “Another thing is that if you get water on a book, the pages might need to dry out and be a little wrinkly, but overall no real damage is done (unless you dropped it into a lake, then recovery time might be a bit longer)” << You have much higher tolerance to damaged books than I have. I dried pages of a book that got wet by accident only once. While I was able to finish reading it, I discarded it after I was done. “Dropping your e-reader into a lake would probably be close to dropping your phone in the lake.” << I agree. Yet, people still insist on bringing their phones to the lake! Phones, by the way, that are several times more expensive than my e-reader. But think of it from a different point of view: if you drop your books in the lake, those books are gone. If I drop my e-reader in the lake, I still have those books on my PC or I can re-download them from the store I purchased them from for free. But it is better to be careful. ”...when the power goes out and we’re in total darkness and here we have people reading their e-readers, I’ll be reading my normal book and smiling to myself when the e-reader runs out of battery and dies.” << My e-reader will be usable for maybe two or three weeks when fully charged. If the power is out longer than that I don’t think anyone will be smiling no matter what we are reading.

  9. Alissa says:

    Wow, I didn’t think I would get that many responses to this… To those of you who converted and think your e-reader is awesome, I’m glad you found something that works for you. I see the logic in having one, however I feel like all those reasons don’t have to do with me. I don’t mind adding a bit of weight to my bag, I don’t mind propping the book up in bed, and I have a small lamp on my nightstand that works wonderfully when I want to read late at night.
    I did borrow my cousin’s, once. She got it for Christmas and that morning they wanted to read A Christmas Carol. And I did read it to everyone, I just couldn’t get over how it didn’t FEEL very Christmasy. I also tried to read the classic Huckleberry Finn on one of them a few weeks later and couldn’t do it. For some reason, the classics don’t feel very classic when you’re reading them on an electronic screen.

    Like I said, I can see the logic behind them, I just don’t see how you can get the full effect of a wonderfully written story with them.

  10. Cindy says:

    I have shelves and shelves and shelves of books. I also own a kindle. I read both “real” books and e-books. Sometimes the book is cheaper than the e version. People give me books as gifts.

    I, too, never thought I would own an e-reader. However, when I started traveling internationally, the thought of finishing my book while in a non-English speaking country threw me into a panic. Given the weight of books, and the surcharges for heavy bags (not to mention hauling them around) I decided that a Kindle was the solution. I can load 8 or 10 books (ok, I currently have 65) on it, and never have to worry about running out of English reading material. It’s also great for reading on the bus. A small paperback book isn’t heavy, granted, but a large hardbound book is (I still remember carrying those Harry Potter behemoths to/from work) so to me, my love of turning paper pages is tempered by my aging back 🙂

  11. J says:

    Thank you for this blog entry. I thought it was interesting and funny. Haha. As much I enjoy the old book smell and the smell of the interior of a new car. I think it’s more practical to carry around an e-reader. Actually I’m waiting for an electronic digital reader with as long a battery life (months) as an e-reader and the ability to read journals, news articles, books, and maybe movies in real time. But what I’m really looking forward to is the ability to buy classroom textbooks for 1/8th the price and the ability to scribble, copy, paste, and even send little notes whenever I need to. Paying over 200 dollars for a textbook per class and the high tuition costs is unacceptable.

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