Call us old fashioned.

By all means, please do. Call us ‘old fashioned’ for enjoying the feel of a real book in our hands. We love the care that needs to be taken when holding it open so you don’t damage the spine. Or, along that same line, the care that needs to be taken when handling an old book and the cover is almost 80% detached from the book.

Sitting across the room from me are two bookcases that are mostly full of books. Some of them haven’t been read, most of them have and several of them have been read multiple times. But all of them are real books, with paper covers, actual pages and finger smudges on their corners.

Sitting on one of the shelves is a Nook. To be completely fair, it is an awesome little device. 32GB of memory to hold thousands of books in something I can hold with one hand. Along with games I’ll never play, magazines I’ll never read and movies I don’t want to watch on that small of a screen. But right now there are only two full books and about a dozen samples on it, not counting several of the finished versions of our own novels we put on there just to see how well they converted. The only reason we actually have the Nook was to see how well the eBook version of Full Moon Rising converted.

Reading from the screen is not a problem. Moving from page to page is not a problem. Finding and selecting the book we want to read is not a problem. We just don’t like reading from it.

I think back to some of the times when I would be reading in bed and fall asleep. I would laugh at myself in the morning when I find the bookmark under my pillow and the book at the foot of the bed. I have to wonder if the thin, glass screen from the Nook would survive spending the night in bed with us.

I keep hearing about how technology is improving our lives and I do agree, to an extent. The downside I see with using an eReader like the Nook is that a power surge or having it fall from your hand could be enough to suddenly kill the hundreds of good books on it. I find that the easier it is for us to do something, the easier it is for that ‘something’ to be undone. If I were to drop a paperback book the cover might tear a little, it might have a crease in a couple of the pages or it might land in something and leave a stain on a few pages, but it will survive. Now if I dropped it in a large basin of water it might be lost, but so would the Nook.

The world, however, seems to like the new devices like the Nook. One of the sad casualties of this trend are the many libraries and book stores that are shutting down because of declining foot traffic. For me, the library was a place to go where the same thing never happened twice. I would go and find myself in the middle of a political struggle during the dark ages. The next week I would go and find myself on a doomed space station as it hurdled toward the star it had been orbiting.

I do understand that you can have that exact same experience with an eReader, without even leaving the house! But that’s the point: you don’t have to leave the house. I found it to be more meaningful to go someplace and then be taken to another world. For me the fact that I had gone somewhere to then be taken somewhere held more significance. It helped make it feel like I really had gone on an adventure.

The town where I live is not small unless you compare it to places like Seattle or New York. Hell, even Denver makes it look small. But at 50,000 people its still pretty good size. But in the town that I call home, there are no bookstores that sell new books. There is a second hand bookstore somewhere downtown, but if you want a new book you have to hit one of the two Wal-Marts. When my family moved here 13 years ago there were 2 bookstores; a Walden’s and a B. Dalton’s. I can’t remember how many times I went there and just browsed through the books, just to see what they had. Now that I think about it, I realize those two stores were the only reason I ever went to the mall. Since they shut their doors I really have no reason to go up there, other than the fact that I work there.

So please, call us ‘old fashioned’ because my wife and I simply don’t feel the need to get rid of paperbacks altogether. Just please don’t call us old, yet. We aren’t turning 30 for a few more months.

The feeling of holding a book in your hand, slowly turning the pages as you read and then finally reaching the end and holding nothing more in your right hand than the back cover is a feeling that eReaders can’t duplicate. The weight of the device never changes the way a book does as its weight shifts slowly from right to left. If you paused in the middle of a book, after having just read a particularly moving event or passage, your book waits patiently for you to come to terms with what you just read, knowing you’ll continue when you’re ready. If I do this while reading on my Nook, it falls asleep from boredom, most likely wondering why it was taking me so long to read that particular page. If a spider drops from the ceiling and lands on the Nook, I end up throwing it as I jump backwards. If a spider drops and lands on the pages of the book I’m reading, I smash the book shut to kill the spider, wipe the remains away and continue reading. I can also read a real book on a plane without wondering if my doing so will cause the plane to crash.

So, in the end I ask that you go and visit a library or bookstore wherever you live, if for no other reason than to be reminded of what paper smells like. People say that libraries smell musty, but I’ve always enjoyed the smell of that many books in one place. The sad thing that I see in our future is the closing of the last bookstore and library. That will be the day when those without the money to buy an eReader will no longer have a way to read books and escape reality for a little while. So go visit a bookstore and browse. Go visit a library and check out a few books. When some device isn’t trying to suggest books it thinks you will like based on what you’ve already read, you have a higher chance of finding some little gem that was hidden. A ‘diamond in the rough’, if you will.

Don’t let some computer nerd who wrote a program tell you what books you might like, go out and find them yourself. It can make for a great adventure.

2 thoughts on “Call us old fashioned.

  1. Love this post – thank you for sharing! I couldn’t agree with you more on the feeling that’s lacking when you pick up a Kindle or other eReader as opposed to a physical book.

    I’ll call you old fashioned if you’re do the same for me? Haha! I actually have a blog dedicated to old fashioned ideas. It’s relatively new but I’ve covered topics so far like dating advice, manners and comfort food all from Old Fashioned Eric’s perspective. I also have a fun reoccurring #TBT piece about different devices from the past worth missing – record players, pocket watches, rotary phone, etc. Check it out:

    • Thanks for the comment! We’re glad you liked the post. We will most definitely check out your blog.

      Thanks again!

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