Saturday 5 February 2011

The pleasure of a real book

There's been qutie a lot of discussion on blogs and elsewhere about e-readers versus real books. I can see both sides of the argument (if there still is one). E-readers are handy, convenient, clear, light to carry. What's not to like? John found his invaluable when he broke his arm - it was easily managed with his good arm, and page-turning wasn't a problem. He will certainly take it on holiday.

But today, I was reminded yet again of the sheer pleasure of a real book. A new book* arrived this morning (courtesy of a Christmas Amazon token), and as I flicked through it, glanced at the reviews and the biograhy of the writer, felt the lovely clean, tight newness of a hiterto unopened paperback, smelled that new-book smell, admired the rather nice cover illustration, I knew that, for me, there's no comparison. I may yet acquire a Kindle, but it won't be the same. It will be like, say, drinking from a plain china cup rather than a beautiful porcelain one. The drink will be the same, but the experience just won't be.

*The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, as recommended by Alis!


  1. I've been resisting eBooks for a long time for that very reason, but I may end up going to a mixed model. The older I get the more frustrating my mild allergy to paper gets. eBooks will, if nothing else, give me a way to read when paper books are giving me asthma. But I resist, because I do love the feel and look of a "real" book in my hands.

  2. Frances, it's the very tightness of a new book which inclines me now to prefer my Kindle.

    That tightness means the only way of getting a paperback far enough open to read comfortably is to break--or at least loosen--the spine. Break it too much and the book sags like an ageing gigolo; not enough and it rebuffs your advances like a prim schoolmarm. The Kindle, on the other, has flexible principles and entertains you entirely according to your requirements.

    Soon I will be divesting myself of all my Dickens, Austen, Bronte paperbacks to replace them with free ebooks - and win back some shelf space for those titles not available electronically.

  3. Hi, Nevets. I do wonder whether paper is on the way out altogether. Paper for the purposes of the writtten word, anyway. How sad that would be.

    Tim - I know, I know, I know. You're right, of course you are. It's pretty well impossible to eat and read a book at the same time (for example) for the reasons that you give. It's just that I get excitd by books, and can't imagine being excited by e-books.