Last night I ordered three books that I plan to read on our beach vacation. I asked several friends for book recommendations, added about ten books to my Amazon cart, then whittled my choices down to three. I am giddy at the idea of pleasure reading at the beach — something I couldn’t do when my children were small and required constant supervision.
I can’t wait for my box to arrive. My senses delight in the feel and the smell of brand new books. I wondered if I was one of the few holdouts preferring a physical book over a digital version. I’m happy to report that I’m not. Driving to work, I heard the story “Technology Of Books Has Changed, But Bookstores Are Hanging In There” on NPR’s Morning Edition. Part of the story was about an independent bookseller’s effort to maintain relevance while buyers (like me) turn increasingly to the convenience of Amazon. But I was happily surprised that the story featured a twenty-something, a Yale computer science professor, and a Tufts professor and author, all who extolled the benefits of reading from a printed book, not a device. But they did also recognize the benefits of eBooks, convenience being the main one. You can tote around one slim device containing a full library of reading.
The place where we rent our beach cottage has a lending library – an old white bookcase crammed with books left behind by guests. I love perusing the well work books, their pages littered with sand and smelling of sunscreen. Every year I lose myself in a new treasure I find on those shelves.
A quick google search of “digital books versus printed books” or “pros and cons of eBooks” shows that there are a lot of opinions on this topic. I think both versions can co-exist nicely, each serving a purpose. Like many advances technology offers, digital books have a place but are not a replacement for printed books. I personally have one foot firmly planted in the paper world, while the other rests comfortably in the world of technology. My own iPhone is like an appendage and I check my email before I get out of bed, but I’ve also insisted that my children learn cursive writing, pen handwritten thank you notes, and I send still send paper invitations instead of Evites for their birthday parties.
I’m still searching for that one book that “hooks” my daughters. I long for them to lose themselves in books that they just can’t put down. I walk the fine line of encouraging, but not insisting (lest I completely turn them off reading), that they find books for pleasure reading. Teachers and friends tell me that it will happen. Believe me, I’d be thrilled to see either of them engrossed in a digital book. But I’d be just a teensy bit more thrilled to see one of my daughters draped over a chair with her nose in a dog-eared paperback.