It’s really not fair to say I “hate” e-readers. After all, I’m coming to you through the magic of electronic media. But my response is usually a little reactionary whenever someone mentions their fondness for their Kindle.
I see the value of a Kindle, Nook, what-have-you if your lifestyle requires large expanses of time spent in a moving vehicle. But they are not, and can never be, a proper substitute for a book made from paper.
A quote from the legendary Ray Bradbury in which he addressed a writer’s conference some years ago sparked this train of thought.
"You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads."
This is a man after my own heart. A large part of the appeal of a paper book is in the smell. New or old, doesn’t matter, one whiff takes me back to childhood when my public library was magical – to adolescence when I discovered Poe, Shakespeare and Arthur Conan Doyle, devouring every Sherlock Holmes story. Twice.
I’m also one of those crazies who lends her books out to friends (but only the ones I REALLY trust) and keeps a list of who has what, so I can be sure to have it returned. I have, in fact, snuck into a former friend’s house to pinch a book I had loaned her after she insisted she had already returned it. And I do, on occasion, return to books I have read to look up a passage that affected me, quote a passage that inspired me, or prove my husband wrong.
Printed words on paper seem so much weightier as well. Perhaps it’s the prejudice of the internet, where Wikipedia not only contains some wonderful discoveries, but honest mistakes and manipulations of willful ignorance. Scammers and spammers abound, and Truth in Advertising laws seem impossible to enforce.
No, e-readers can never hold a place in my heart.
And yes, I see the irony in that.