The recent demise of Borders has started me thinking about the future of print media.  Is it possible that in another 15 years we may not be reading print books any longer, reliant instead upon e-book readers like the Kindle, Nook, and other similar devices?  While these ways of reading might be fine for some I, for one, still prefer the old tried-and-true method of reading, with a print book in hand.  So, I thought I would list a few of the reasons that I prefer reading a paper and glue book over a digital one.

Tactility-I know this may sound a little silly, but I just like the feel of a book in my hands.  There’s just something about the feel of the book as it rests against my hand, about the act of turning a page (especially the rough-cut pages that you see on many new hardcovers), that I just don’t get when I read a digital book (and I’ve read a few).  Although iBooks comes close to replicating the experience of reading a printed book, it is still, at the end of the day, just a screen.

Sight-I like looking at books.  There, I said it.  When I walk into my library (or a public library, for that matter) and see the rows of books, it gives me a good feeling.  Sometimes I’ll just walk into my library for no other reason than to just take in the sight of the books I’ve collected over the years (divided into categories, of course).  I often walk into bookstores (those few that remain, anyway), for the same reason.

Smell-I know this one might sound a little weird, but I like the smell of books.  Whether it’s the faintly musty smell of old books that have been stored away or the thicker smell that comes from glossy pages (like many books published by Routledge), or the inky smell of new paperbacks, I love them all.  Until they come out with a computer that generate that kind of smell, I’ll never like digital books as much.

Durability-Last but not least, there’s the durability factor.  Sure, electronics are pretty sturdy these days, but what happens if, Heaven forbid, there’s a malfunction in your software that deletes all of your books?  What happens if the Amazon (or Apple, or whatever) software deletes your Library (improbable, I know, but still a possibility).  Well, then, you’re SOL.  However, if you have a regular book, you can easily replace it if, for example, you should drop it in water or engage in some other mishap.  Of course, you could always say that water-crinkled pages are a mark of character, and not even have to replace it at all.

So, there you have it, a little love letter to printed books.  No matter how much my friends and colleagues might say they love their e-reader, I just can’t make myself stop loving regular, plain-old printed books more.  Let’s just hope that that they stick around a while longer.  I really don’t want to have to go completely to digital.

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