In my conversations with other book lovers every day, I hear one thing over and over again. Nothing beats the smell of a new book. And yet, when I see them reading, they’re doing it on their iPads, Nooks, Kindles, or various other
“Nothing beats the smell of a new book.”
e-readers that are so prevalent these days. I myself have a Nook, but I would tell you I prefer the smell of a new book too, and for me it would be true. Well, sorta.
Libraries are amazing, not only for the undeniable ambiance that each one has, but also for the sheer number of books within their esteemed walls. I love walking into a new library (not new because it was just built, but new because I have never been there before), looking around, picking out just the right book, and fifteen of its closest friends. There’s nothing quite like cracking open a new book (same definition of “new”) and discovering a whole new world within its pages. And I love my bookmarks too. I have one that is the classic one of Poe gazing into the crystal ball that I once left in a library book when I turned it in, and I was distraught over it until I got a call from the library. They had it, and returned it to me. I love libraries.
Book stores are almost as phenomenal, except they have the cousins to those library books: New Books. From the time I was little, I particularly loved smelling New Books, but I hardly ever came in contact with them. A New Book was like the Yeti, a shy mountain giant whom no one has ever seen. But then I saw one, and I fell in love. It was smooth to the touch, sleek in design, and if you held it at just the right angle you could see that its pages had cool ridges in them. And they were white. New Books had halos above them, in my mind, and I spent as much time as I could in those magical places called book stores once I found my first one. I still get a chill when I walk into one (RIP Borders).
So, in the ultimate battle for supremacy, it would appear that my emotional side has chosen paperbacks over digital editions of books, but it is never as simple as it seems. For each possible choice, there are advantages of both possibilities, and this choice is no different. Advantages of paperbacks: that new smell, shopping for used books, turning the physical page, library visits. Advantages of digital books: space savers, easy downloading, good for trips, optional music while you read too. This last one is huge for me, because I love listening to music while reading, so that makes up a lot of ground between digital books and paperbacks.
But, in the end I would pick paperbacks because that’s what I grew up with. Each book is more than just a book, it’s a sense of nostalgia, a wonderment from childhood that is hard to recapture through any other medium. All that stuff, and yet the choice wasn’t an easy one. Indeed, I do have my Nook, and it’s looking at me like I just killed its kid, sitting there on the bookshelf wearing its fancy green cover. Don’t worry, buddy. You have your uses too. You see,
“a wonderment from childhood that is hard to recapture…”
sometimes I can’t get the book I want from the library. Let’s say I’m 20th in line and it’s the hottest book out right now, but I’m DYING to read it. So I go to B&N.com and download it quickly and efficiently. And amazingly enough, I have the book forever, for better or for worse. There’s another disadvantage. If I start reading it and I can’t stand it, what’s my recourse?
So, that’s what I do. I read books both ways, but more of my time is spent reading hardcovers and paperbacks, either from the library, from a used book sale, or from a book store (still a rare occurrence). What about you? Gone fully digital yet?