So says Mark Franek in his recent article “Amazon e-book tipping point: Is the death of books upon us?”
Franek muses over the fact that Amazon says it now sells more e-books than hardcovers. Keep reading, and you find out how much he is attached to books and how unsteady he feels in the technology-savvy, social media-driven, text-crazy 21st century.
“My lament for a life without books stems not from mere affection for how books are made and handled, but from an appreciation for the messy tactile narrative of how books are made manifest and cling to our lives. Our treasured books hold more than dog-ears and bookmarks; they store the fragments we shore against our ruins, to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot.”
Wow. “Made manifest and cling to our lives.” I know that’s true for me. I can list the books that got intertwined into my heart and mind, that truly became a part of my life, that taught me a lesson no human could. Now, can that happen via an e-reader? Maybe. But you can’t dog-ear a page, or use the card your husband gave you on your anniversary as a bookmark. Can you underline or highlight or write notes to yourself? Actually, I’m not sure, because I have never looked at an e-reader. But I would argue that even if you can, it’s not the same as holding the pages of a book.
Franek agrees: “In my library there are books with scores of marginal notes, the disembodied but permanent markings of prior readers. It’s emotionally stirring to encounter notes from strangers, old friends and girlfriends, some now married, others divorced – conversations dead and gone. Like my old self.”
For this teacher, writer, and reader, I will take an yellowed, falling apart, broken-spined book over a digital book any day. I love to feel the pages, to turn them in anticipation, to see the colorful spines of all the books lining my shelves. I am determined that as our society becomes more and more technologically-based, I will still be buying and reading physical books. I’m not saying I’ll NEVER buy a digital book reader, but I am saying that I will be a bookkeeper of sorts, with a home that welcomes all kinds of books to its shelves. My husband and I have so many books that we’ve filled a room with them, and will have to buy more bookcases if we acquire any more books! My children’s floors flow with books that don’t fit into their small nightstands. I am a book lover. I will rage against the death of books.
(To be continued – in Part 2, however, I will argue against myself! Stay tuned.)