Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Jason's Lament or Why We'll Always Have Books
So, in the gift of the Kindle, Jason was hoping not only to give me pleasure, but to make his own life a little easier. And I like my Kindle. But, I still love my books.
In fact, it is with dismay that Jason has noted no significant decrease in the incoming stream of books to our home. True, I've purchased a few items for Kindle; but, those have always been books I may not have otherwise purchased. That is, for my Kindle, I have only bought the ephemeral and amusing -- books on current events or political memoirs. Nothing that I would ever care to read again. It's like an instant, expensive library.
But, books are so much more. If there is a book by an author I know and love, I purchase the paper and glue version. If there is a book I may want at some point in the future to use as a reference, I purchase the paper and glue version. If there is a book about which I am so enthusiastic that I cannot help but scribble notes in the margins of, I am thankful for the availability of those margins and realio-trulio printed words over which I can run a highlighter.
As every voracious reader knows, you get a system with books wherein you can find almost instantly any passage you want by memorizing (without trying) the pinched thickness of pages both before and after your desired passage and the format of the text on the page and the topic sentences of the paragraphs thereon. It is a skill as surely as a cook's ability to plop in the right amount of spices without thinking or an equestrian's ability to sit on a spooked horse without panic.
So, I think that, much like the poor, books we'll always have with us. Or, maybe at least, we'll have them until my generation (or the generation right after mine) dies out and takes with it the old-fashioned notion that ink and pressed wood pulp is the ideal medium on which to enjoy written expression. But, oh, what a gloomy world that would be -- without reassuring shelves of spined-out volumes reminding us of where we've come from and heartening us with whispered promises about where we could go. I feel sorry for the future digital people.