The future of books, take one

Okay, it’s a few glasses of wine into my (getting late) Tuesday night.  I’ve spent some time with Ray, some time folding laundry ( 3 loads), some watching West Wing reruns, and checking in with my writer’s boards.  Came across an interesting interview with popular literary agent Nathan Bransford (who, in addition to being a very cute 28 years old, seems to know quite a bit about the industry, and maintains a highly-visited blog.  A cool writer dude.).  Check out the interview.

In it, Mr. Bransford muses on the future of book buying, predicting that e-books are the way of the future.

I don’t know if he is right or wrong, but if he’s right, my heart is shattered.

There is something so personal and perfect about holding a book in your hands, something a scan of the computer (Kindle or whatever) could never rival.  I dog-ear my books, to the horror of librarians everywhere.  I also do this weird thing where I scuttle down a bit of the page using a thumbnail, to create a perfect ridge of crinkle.  I do this without thought, regularly, embarassingly, as if caressing the pages as I am drawn into the tale unfolding, visually, physically, emotionally.  I am a Reader.  If you got me, you got all of me.

I so can NOT imagine doing that with an e-book.  For one thing, I’m getting a bad back.  I’d rather read supine, in bed, than propped up in front of my desktop computer, no matter how ergonomic my chair is.

I’m probably in the minority.  After all, I am confused and annoyed by Twitter and anything like it.  (Facebook is about enough for me, thank you very much).   I don’t want to be wired every second of my day — nor do I want to be a hermit camped out on Walden’s Pond.   I want to hold my books and surf the Internet.

I don’t know if the world agrees with me.  I am trying to get published in a business of failing imprints and dissolving audiences.  Is my ambition an exercise in futility?

It’s hard to say.  What I do know is that computers cannot cuddle under the covers and be read again and again.  Books need to be held; they need to be touched.  I’m not sure that anyone will always agree with me.  Maybe I’ll be the crazy old lady at the end of the street with her “library” of “books” that need “dusting” and sort of smell funny, like ink and printing presses.  Maybe the neighbors will shake their heads and bring me tuna casseroles along with laptops offering the newest NY Times bestseller.

I’m young to be old-fashioned.  But I’ve watched my four kids interact with books — from babyhood where gnawing on the cardboard was as exciting as the repetition, to toddlerhood where predictability was most important, to early reading and beyond, where holding the pages in the stillness of the past-bedtime night made the reading more heartfelt.

Readers  read with more than their eyes.   Computers are fun, and important, and the future, but they can not replace the reality of a book in hand.

Or so I hope.


3 thoughts on “The future of books, take one

  1. i am glad you are finally owning up to your crinkle thing. man that drives me nuts! i don’t like to turn down pages either, i enjoy a book mark thank you very much! i like to keep my books as nice as possible so i can keep them with me longer. i really don’t enjoy reading on the computer and i hope that one day i’m not forced to. hey i love technology, love it, but not everything needs to be in that format just because we can.

  2. I feel the same way about reading books as you do. I doubt that e books will replace “real” books ant time soon.

    Hey, keep writing and they will publish it!

  3. I would never be able to enjoy a book that I couldn’t hold in my hands. Think about it! How great is it to curl up in your favorite chair and escape to a whole new world while enjoying the comfort of a fire blazing. Or how about a beautiful day in the hammock or on the beach with your friend, Mr. Book, right there taking you to far away places. Or, snuggled up in bed, morning or evening, doesn’t matter when but with your favorite book. Just seeing them on the shelf, piled next to your bed or chair, gives you that comfortable feeling. And reading to kids, what with a e-book and a stylus? No, sorry, print has been around for a long time and will remain. Who ever heard of snuggling up with a good computer. xo

    Comment by jmceeyore | March 25, 2009

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