I’ll admit it: I’m a book snob.
That doesn’t mean that I only read bestsellers or classics or prize winners, but I’ll tell you what it does mean. It means I prefer paper books.
I know, I know, I’m a 23-year-old dinosaur. I have tried reading on my phone, and I owned and used a Kindle for a brief time in 2013 before giving it to my sister the ocean-crosser, whose needs it suits much better. I’ve also tried audiobooks, but to no avail. With audiobooks, I find I bury myself in my own thoughts or activities and don’t hear or absorb much of the book. The e-readers I’ve used didn’t and don’t engage my senses as fully as a paper book does. Reading something as intimate as a novel on a screen feels clinical and impersonal. I can’t fold down pages, or write in the margins, or highlight, or underline anything. I don’t get to see my physical progress throughout the story as I turn more and more pages, and the chunk of paper grows from one side of the cover to the other. I can’t get a used book for a cheaper price, with the story that someone else’s markings tell in addition to the story within the margins.
There’s something about a physical paper book. It engages all the senses: sight and touch, obviously, but also smell and sound. A new book has a scent, as does an old one; the first is fresh ink and newly-cut pages, and the latter is a sweet, dusty mustiness that echoes love, adventure, and contentment. The sound of pages turning is the sound of a small victory.
I think e-readers and audiobooks are wonderful options for many different types of people. They’re great for travelers, commuters, and minimalists alike. Anything that is a means for people to read, or read more, should be celebrated. That being said, I don’t think paper books will ever entirely disappear. There are too many like me, curmudgeons who like the old technology more than the new. A person only needs one e-reader or download of an audiobook, but if enough people are attached to reading and purchasing physical books, there will always be a demand for them.