I have an iPad and I’ve downloaded about 15 books and numerous magazine articles to the device. I love it. It’s convenient, easy to carry, and not bad to read. But am I ready to dump real books? Not hardly. If you’ve ever found an old book at a garage sale, and recognized it as one you’d read years ago – perhaps as a child, you’ll know what I mean. There’s something about the feel, the smell, and the whole tactile experience of owning books. I can pull many of mine from the shelf and tell you where I wrote notes or what part of the page a certain quote is on. I remember my first tragedy. It was called “Sabre Jet Ace” – about an Air Force pilot during the Korean War. In the last chapter he was shot down and killed. I’ll never forget reading it in elementary school. I’d never read a story where the hero died. I sat there stunned. I had to re-read the last chapter a few times to make sure it was true. As an adult, I spent years searching for that book, but decades later, I found it. Just holding it my hand brings back that empty feeling I had as a kid reading the story.
Will E-Books do that? I don’t know, but I doubt the experience will be the same. So when it comes to serious books, I’m sticking with paper.
As Dan Newman wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently:
I see e-books as a companion format that will always share space with printed volumes. Perhaps one day, I’ll even travel with a Kindle. Until then, I’m content with my hefty volume of “Don Quixote,” my tattered grade-school dictionary and my wood-cut illustrated “Moby Dick.” Maybe I’m a Luddite because I feel sorry for children who read “Goodnight Moon” on a phone. And perhaps I’m a softie for hoarding my torn copy of “Huck Finn,” a gift from my grandfather, with an inscription that still makes my eyes water.
I could tell you what it says. But it’s best to read with the book held in your own hands.