I’m a girl who loves a book. When I’m feeling low, I buy one. When I have to buy a present, I always have a title in mind. And so last year, it was with not a little sadness that I asked my brother Louis if we should get our dad a Kindle. He travels all the time for work and not only is he a voracious reader, he’s always reading those 600 page biographies of great Americans for his book group.
Louis and I weren’t alone in our Kindle buying. According to Amazon, the Kindle reader is its bestselling product for the second year running. And just last night as my husband and I watched a commercial for Barnes & Noble’s Nook in color, we both shook our heads and my husband said what we were both thinking. “This might really be the end of the book as we know it.” And do I feel fine?
On the one hand, why not use an ebook reader? It solves so many book-related problems. When you go on vacation, you can bring that 500-page biography and all seven Harry Potters. When you go to the doctor’s, you don’t have to remember to put your book in your purse and you can choose whatever magazine you want to read. (Although who doesn’t love a 3-month-old copy of Us?) Just don’t forget your charger!
But then I think of my kids looking at books, the way my son pours over pictures of the inside of the human body, the way my daughter digs into elaborate illustrations. I guess they could do all that on an electronic book reader. I guess that kind of screen time will have to be OK. I suppose it’s just nostalgia that’s making me anxious about the ebooks. There are, I know, pleasures to be had from reading from a device instead of book.
I have a friend who’s a very, very serious reader. Very serious. And she loves, loves, loves reading on her iPhone. She feels free, like she’s not distracted by a cover telling her how she’s supposed to feel and the quotes telling her what she’ll like about the book. She’s got a point, but, still, a lot of the time, I like book covers.
The Gutenberg Bible, the first book printed with movable type, showed up in Europe in 1454 of 1455. From then to now, that’s a good long time for a technology like the book. I suppose there’s a lot about the world as we know it that will change for our kids so maybe we’ll join the ebook revolution. How will we decide, though, nook vs kindle? What about an iTouch? And once we decide to read most of our books on a screen, when do we trade in our cars for jet packs?
Do you have an ebook reader? Do you feel like we’re about to say goodbye to the book?