One year, I took a suitcase of books on vacation. A 10-day vacation. So, of course most of those books did not get read. If I had thought about it logically, I would have known there wasn’t enough time before I headed to the airport.
But I think I simply wanted them with me.
That same pull, for a stack of books that I can pick and choose from, is still my preferred method for ingesting facts and fictions. I like touching each page. Making notes in the margins. Using bits of paper as bookmarks.
I like their weight. The number of pages, the ongoing string of words. Thinking about the writer working on each page. The readers who read the first draft…I imagine the book at that point as printed pages held together with a binder clip. Then, a designer working on the cover and the design files going to press.
I think I process what I read differently when it’s printed, too. I’m currently reading The Silence of the Girls and working on a design project yesterday I found myself tucking the font into folds of fabric, just as I saw on the cover. Realizing the connection, I could almost feel my fingers on the pages, hear the story being told in my mind. Even though I was, actually, siting at a computer staring at Photoshop.
Yes, e-books have me on convenience. They are much easier to carry than a suitcase of books. Yet a screen delivers a variety of things. It is ongoing, uploaded and changing.
A book delivers one story.
Of course, the book will change too, but the change isn’t happening to the elements that have already been designed, approved, and sent to delivery. The book will age. If there is a coffee spill, it will be seen immediately. Or it will sit on a bookshelf, aging slowly. Daily. And the meanings of the words will be shifting too, because we are changing, and as time moves society will view the words from a new perspective.
I love printed books because they hold my memories of reading them, and as I scan my bookshelf I have mementos from different times, period of interests.
A lot have gone, been given away or sold, but I’ve kept the gems. Some were gifts. In some cases, I’m still close to those people. Others not.
Is there a better way? A cheaper way? Maybe. But it doesn’t matter. Because when you love something, you love it. That love is all yours.
And as it says on page 124 of The Silence of the Girls, “If any man love the instruments of any craft, the gods have called him.”
And that love is mine to tumble into. It’s not about logic, convenience, or budgets.
So, I’ll keep buying hardcopies. And if you love e-books, I salute you on your choice too. The stories are what matter. The stories pull us all forward.
Mali Anderson is a Chicago-based content creator. She creates blog posts, web copy, original photography, and feature articles.