Listen, Jena, I’ve really been enjoying the Nook I got for Christmas (thanks, Mam and Dad). Three dollars and five minutes got all Mark Twain’s books onto this little eReader. I love our apartment full of actual books, though, so I thought I should figure out whether or not eReaders are going to ruin books. Also I photographed my newly organized library. You married into this.
Maybe the internet crippled the music industry, but there’s no arguing the iPod made music addicts out of people who might otherwise never hear more than a few radio hits on the way to work. Virgin Records died, but more people hear more music because an entire collection of records is now smaller than a wallet. It’s possible, then, that eReaders will do the same for books, since they make it easy for anyone to keep a library in their coat pocket.
But a beautifully bound book in the hand is still a powerful thing. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but that’s usually wrong. The cover is usually an accurate representation of what’s inside. There are so many novels I would never have read if a good cover hadn’t attracted me first, Tobias Wolff’s incredible Old School best among them.
So I’m not done shopping for actual books and lining our walls with them. I’m not done seeking out a used bookstore in every city or town we’re in and marking our visit with a note on the title page of whatever book I buy.
It seems I have two literary hobbies: reading, and having books. Like a man who loves cross country and soccer, practicing one hobby helps with the other. My new Nook will help me read things I can’t find or that might never have caught my eye in stores, and allow me to be more selective in the actual paper books I bring home to our already sagging shelves.
For the written word is not like film or music, which better technology can improve. While Inception on a laptop is not the same as Inception on a 46” screen, give me the words “Marley was dead: to begin with” on a beautiful page, a folded napkin, or a little computer screen, and I’ll keep reading.