I still read those antiquated things that require turning pages instead of sliding, swiping, or tapping to the next one. It’s not in my plans to stop reading paper books or to stop spending great amounts of time in used book stores trying to catch bargains on classics, but I am starting to find myself interested in e-readers. I’m intrigued as a reader by the ability to have thousands of books available (nearly) immediately. As a writer, I’m intrigued by the opportunity to distribute my writing to a wider and/or different audience than available through to old method.
If I did give up paper books, how would I impress my guests? Currently, I have an entire wall of my living room dedicated to bookshelves (all full). My vain ego enjoys watching my friends peruse my shelves and listening to them compliment me on my taste. When I visit them, the roles are reversed, but the pleasure remains. Many of my better conversations have begun at a bookshelf. It may start with noticing a shared interest in an author/book or noticing an author/book that is new and asking about the quality and flavor of the writing.
I have trouble imagining this experience with e-readers. It’s such a casual thing to stand by someone’s bookshelf and pass judgement. It’s what we do when the host is busy in the kitchen, perhaps. Asking to look at someone’s electronic library seems much more active and invasive. Even good friends may decline requests to give up control of a personal electronic device. And, with our host in the kitchen example, the host may well be reading the dinner recipe from his/her Kindle.
Sure, we can ask “what have you been reading?” or “what are your favorite books?” like we always have, but so much is missed. My response to either question will usually include 4 or 5 books, and a fine conversation will certainly occur, but randomness is often lost. I think we gain a lot from the random. We learn things about each other that we may not have otherwise.
I guess we need both paper and electronic books. So I’ll probably relent and buy myself a Kindle sometime. Maybe in a year or two.