There is something about the physical presence of a book, that cannot be replaced with an eBook. Books smell of something herby, like dead leaves, the smoke of pipes from centuries ago. They are heavy and torpid with life. Their pages fall open with a mystical sense of kismet, and betray unintended messages. There is a feeling of being weighed down by them, in a pleasant way. Unless lugging a bag of textbooks up a hill. But if they are books of leisure, carrying them is like carrying a load of vegetables, it contains the same nourishing, life-giving force.
It’s my contention that people will continue to want books as objects, things to cherish and admire forever. People no longer need maps or telephone books, but they will always need books as heart-warming objects. These are objects to ignite a metaphorical hearth inside of one’s soul.
Books as objects, evoke a sense of temporal and spatial memory. An inner light goes on and suddenly, you are transported to that scratchy tree with grey bark sticking into your back. In the park during some pivotal time of your life. You were perhaps teenage, wearing rubber street shoes. The weather was warm to humid. Children were yelling and playing with a dog in the distance. You were reading x, and realised that your perception of the world would never be the same, from that very second in time, onwards.
Books get eviscerated, trampled upon, shredded to pieces, bleached in the sun, drowned in sudden storms, swallowed by the ocean, cremated into dust rising into the night sky. They gather dust, tears, sweat and blood throughout their pages. They get passed around and stolen. They have bus tickets and notes thrust into their spines. Phone numbers and reference codes written on the bottom of pages. They get savoured and revered and thrown at walls in disgust.
Ebooks cannot do this, they are immobilised by a plastic container that always looks, smells and feels the same, despite the contents varying between Barbara Cartland and Dostoyevski, Hitler and the Dalai Lama. In other words, society’s trash and treasures coexist and rugby tackle each other within this same ‘thing’, that’s carried around, everywhere. How can a ‘thing’ cease to be a ‘thing’ and be all about the contents? Marshall McLuhan’s famous words, ‘the medium is the message’ seem appropriate.
If somebody loves Books, can they truly love eBooks?
Are eBooks a portable replacement for the real thing, lacking in style, form, and aesthetic appeal?
I’ve stated my case. Now I am waiting for your thoughts!