Real books are rad

Aethne Hinchliffe
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Books. Whenever I drive or walk around neighbourhoods, I choose my dream houses based on the fact there might be the perfect room for a library.

Like a child passing a candy store, I get excited just to go to a bookstore. There’s just this thing about books - a tactile thing, I guess. And then there’s reading them, which I happen to enjoy.

Lately, as e-readers like the Kobo and Kindle become more and more popular, I wonder about the future of books. Are they long for this world? Already, independent bookstores, even in large urban centres, are few and far between.

I know books won’t die completely, but I think the appreciation people have for books has begun and will continue to shift as e-readers get fancier and fancier.

I’d be foolish if I couldn’t admit there are some advantages to e-readers. For instance, they’re small and easy to take travelling. Oh, and then there’s the fact they can fit more books than one could possibly read in a lifetime.

I was packing for my vacation last night and saying to my friend, “Should I take one book or two? Oh, I guess I’ll take two.”

I just didn’t want to have excess baggage. Of course, a Kobo’s a little larger than an iPhone and a little smaller than an iPad. (It’s about the size of a notebook.) So yes, absolutely there are advantages to such a simple machine holding one’s library.

Without true books, the tactility’s gone. When switching to the next page on the Kobo, the page does “turn,” but it’s not the same.

Without books, there’d be little need for bookstores and libraries. I used to love going to Ottawa’s main library and finding myself in the company of others who were largely there for the same reason - an appreciation of some sort for reading. Would there ever be a public space where people would gather to read their Kobos - perhaps surrounded by shelves of e-readers and the latest book deals?

When I go to friends’ houses, I almost immediately peruse their shelves to see if they’ve bought any books lately. If I see something that catches my attention, I’ll ask to borrow it. Would someone happily lend me her or his e-reader? Um, probably not.

What about reading in the bath or accidentally leaving a book on the bus? Of course it’s disappointing to lose something, but to lose an e-reader would be a bigger financial loss than saying goodbye to a novel.

I’ve talked about it a lot. I love technology and love to check out and own the latest gadgets. But embracing one thing shouldn’t mean pushing another aside.

Geographic location: Ottawa

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