Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Books Have a Soul

Yesterday, I took my daughter to the bookstore for our annual summer reading shopping spree. Both of my children attend schools where there is a required summer reading list (which I'm happy to support), and when we have time we try to make a regular stop at the library. I'm so grateful that my kids enjoy reading and are just as interested as I am in collecting books in their own particular genre. Interestingly, even though my kids are "technology kids" -- I have to ask them how to do everything from computers, iphones, ipods, you name it -- they haven't embraced the e-book phenomenon. I actually gave them both e-readers for Christmas last year, and neither one of them uses it much. I was also a little sad walking into B&N yesterday as an entire section of the store is now stark and empty.... they have moved shelves with rows upon rows of glorious newly released titles to make room for their electronic books, and it looks.....bare and sterile.

There is a terrific article on the Poisoned Pen bookstore blog (The Romance of the Written Word by Steve Schwartz) that articulates how I feel about the future of paper-and-ink books better than I could ever express. I love how he describes that "books have a soul" and that beloved, well-worn books make your senses come alive with the smell and feel of the novel in your hands. What wonderful memories come flooding back when I hold a cherished favorite book in my hands!

I truly understand the absolute necessity of e-books (and audiobooks)...they are very convenient for people who want and need to read on-the-go, it's such a space saver with thousands of books in one place (not to mention environmentally friendly to the trees!), and so fast, easy, and less expensive to download.

So my question to you as a bibliophile is this -- what do you see for the future of your personal library? Have you begun to switch to an e-reader (or audiobooks) exclusively? Do you still purchase paper-and-ink books? Are you 50%/50%?

For me, I have an e-reader, but I rarely use it. Nothing can replace the feeling of a supple, flexible book in my hands -- so currently I'm 90% paper, 10% e-reader/audio. I have the Outlander series on audio which I listen to often, but they are enhancements to the books, not a replacement. I enjoy my audiobooks when driving by myself or working in the kitchen/doing chores around the house.

Your thoughts? What's your preference? (BTW, I'm not trying to sway anyone either way -- I just love talking about books in every way possible, and I enjoy hearing how others incorporate reading into their lives. It's all good!) :)


Anjuli said...

I think books will never become extinct- because all real readers NEED to feel and touch the book as they read. Part of the reading experience is turning the pages...feeling the 'soul of the book'- seeing the books lined on the shelves. Having said that, the e-reader is convenient and there will always be a place for it...as for me, I'm 80% a real book reader and 20 % an e-book reader (when I travel I use my NOOK).

Nise' said...

I am still a hold it in my hands gal. I do not have an e-reader yet.

Good Company said...

I don't have an e-reader and don't have plans on getting one. I, too, enjoy the feel, smell, etc associated with reading. When I travel, I still take a book along.

The Ipad is nice to read on because it is larger like a real book(could read in the dark), but I have no plans to start e-reading. I like collecting things, too, and enjoy seeing all my books sitting on shelves like old friends waiting for me to revisit them.

Great post!

Staci said...

books do have a soul and I love them so much. To think of a world without real books would absolutely devastate me. I treasure all of mine. I do have a Kindle but I usually reach for a real book first!

Yvette said...

I love this post, Joanne. I agree completely. But I am even more vehement in my dislike of e-books. I do not have a Kindle or Nook nor do I plan to get one.

It it is absolutely necessary for me to read an e-book, I do so on my computer screen hating every moment of it. I just don't like reading off a screen, ANY screen.

Like you, I can see the necessity of it if you travel a lot, but other than that - nah.

For textbooks it might work well, save kids having to carry those heavy tomes in their backpacks. But I'm not even sure text books are currently available in e-form.

If you love the feel, the smell, the touch, the aura of books, there's no way you will be satisfied with a sterile electronic device. No matter how handy.

That's great about your kids opting for 'real' books. Good story.

Unknown said...

At our local RWA conference this past March, one of the editors brought up that she had recently spoken with the Barnes 'n Nobles head guru (uncertain of his name), and asked him what he thought on the big, "omigosh are all the bookstores going to eventually shut down because of e-reader" phenomenon. He said just what someone said in a previous comment: There will always be a want/need/demand for books in print. So, he's not worried about it at all.

Personally, I'm 50/50. I buy like crazy for my Kindle (LOVE the "try a sample now" feature), but I also purchase hard copies. And if I read a book on the Kindle and love it? I run out and buy the paperback/hardback. Because I wanna see it on my shelf. Just old fashioned that way, I suppose.

Great post, by the way. So good to see your kids read! :)

Melissa @ Confessions of an Avid Reader said...

What a great post, Joanne.

I own a Kindle, but don't use it very often. I've purchased several books for it and have downloaded quite a few free e-books, but somehow I never think to look at my e-book options when deciding what to read next - I always go to my physical shelves.

I can understand the appeal of e-readers, especially while travelling, but I much prefer physical books. At the moment I'd say my library consists of 95% physical books, 5% e-books. I don't see this stat changing. In fact, I think my e-book percentage will probably drop even lower because as convenient as it is I just don't want to use it.

Joanne said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts! Looks like people will always recognize the importance of the "soul" of books! yay!

Favorite Period Dramas

Mount TBR

Joanne's to-read book montage

On a Highland Shore
A Light on the Veranda
The Queen's Vow: A Novel Of Isabella Of Castile
The Edwardians
Maisie Dobbs
Howards End
Lady's Maid
Instruments Of Darkness
When Maidens Mourn
Where Shadows Dance
What Remains of Heaven
Where Serpents Sleep
Why Mermaids Sing
When Gods Die
Before Ever After
The Sugar Queen
Garden Spells
After the Night

Joanne's favorite books »