I hold the book in my hands, gently running my forefinger back and forth across the pages, feeling the rough grainy texture against my skin. The cover is smooth, the weight of it comfortable and full of promise. Running my finger down the right hand side of the front page, I open it, and enter a new world.
To me, something wonderful happens every time I read a book. When the rise of the e-book reader came about, I remained firm in my beliefs that nothing would ever replace paper for me. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Kindle, or other tablets like it. They suit thousands of readers all around the world, and if they get people reading, who am I or anyone else to judge? E-book readers are practical and lightweight, and in many ways they should have appealed to me. It would be my own personal little library that I could bring with me wherever I went. Books can be heavy things to carry about all day long, and I’m always reluctant to leave the house without one in my bag – you never know when a free moment to read might come along. But they do take up a lot of space sometimes, and the sight of a dog-eared book shoved in a bag is something that makes the neat bookworm inside me cringe.
For all the perks of the e-book reader, there exists one key problem: they aren’t books. Real books, made out of good old-fashioned paper. I have tried using a Kindle several times before, borrowing them off family members and my boyfriend, and every time I try them something doesn’t feel right. There’s something missing, and I can’t ignore it.
I think many people might understand where I’m coming from. There is some sort of comfort in a paper book to me, even in the act of buying a new one. Going book shopping is one of my favourite experiences, something I always savour and prefer to do alone. There’s probably nothing I hate more as a reader than being rushed in a bookstore. They are a place for me to take my time, unwind and search. I roam around all of the sections, walking along the different shelves and running my fingers along the spines of a hundred different books, picking one up to flick through it occasionally, reading a paragraph or two. Bookstores are one of the most relaxing places for me to go to. There’s the smell that hits me when I first walk in, and the seemingly endless amount of printed words that stretch out before me. There’s a sort of beauty to a bookstore – a feeling of calm, and wisdom, but also that buzz of excitement.
Even the very process of starting a new book is like a little bit of a ritual to me. Very rarely do I simply launch into a new book. Instead, I’ll hold the paper side to my nose, gently flicking the pages and breathing in that gorgeous smell. It is my favourite smell in the entire world. I admire the cover, read the critic’s reviews on the first few pages. Then, and only then, will I start to read it, feeling as the weight of the pages transfers from my right hand to my left hand as I move closer and closer to the end. With a tablet, you never get that thrill of turning the page in earnest – pressing a button or swiping your finger across a screen just isn’t the same thing.
Paper copies of books take on something when you read them. They seem to grow with you, taking on little markings, like little reminders of where you’ve been while reading it. Every time I look at my growing collection in my room, I’m reminded of characters I’ve met, world’s I’ve been to and stories I’ve lived. One of my favourite things to do is revisit old stories; there are books in my room that I have read over and over again, the feel of them familiar and each different to one another.
My little library mightn’t be the greatest collection in the world. It’s still rather small, but it’s growing ever so slowly. All my life I have wanted to one day own a massive library, a quiet space in my home filled with all of the books I have read, and ones that are to be read. I want to be able to go in and pull a book from the shelf, and curl up in front of the fire, the walls around me piled high with books. And for all its arguments of practicality and portability, an e-book reader can’t give me that, now can it?