Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Smell of Paper

Often when you talk of the coming of ebooks (Kindle, Sony Reader), people say that they won't switch because they love the actual physical thing that is a book. I imagine people said similar things about switching to cars. Yes, it is more efficient, but I love my horse so much. And they did! And they do!

Books do have an appeal. How much is nostalgia from the stories in the books, and how much is an actual love for the thing?

Books are often awkward to read... you have to turn pages, you lose your place, and over time they sometimes collapse. But they do carry the weight of a beloved object... a relic of the story. Like the stub of a movie you went to on a first date, or a shirt you wore when something happened, or a wine glass from your final year of school.

One of my favourite movies is 'Sideways'. It makes you want to drink wine, not because you love the taste of wine, but because you want to be part of the story... because you want to be able to tell a story.

I always dreamt of having one of those old school libraries with books lining the wall. Many people do... but how much of it is a love of actual reading, or is it rather the story attached with being someone who loves books?

Ebooks will mean you can immediately read whatever you want to. They will mean instant access to the library of Alexandria and every text ever written. They will mean being able to comment on, and read comments of others about texts. Reading will become interactive rather than passive.

If they are designed in an aesthetically pleasing way, maybe nostalgia needn't be doomed.

And no doubt, they will make the actual process of reading as opposed to having a book, more pleasurable and stories will spread.

And like the pony rides and horse rides people still go on, no doubt homes will have a few beautifully constructed, illustrated and leather bound books.
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