Paper and Ink: 3 Reasons I’m Not an eBook Girl

A few weeks ago I was in line at Nebraska Furniture Mart, preparing to purchase a book.

The man behind me in line laughed and said, “You don’t see people doing that much anymore.”

I said, “What? You mean buying a book at a furniture store? I know –  kinda strange, huh?”

“No,” he said. “I mean buying a book . . . at all. People just don’t do it.”

I just smiled. “Well, I certainly do.”

“So you don’t read eBooks?”

“Not much. I’m rather stubbornly rebelling against the eBook world. I’ll always stick to my paperbacks first and foremost.”

The man just grinned at me and shook his head . . . then kept smiling and shaking his head until I had checked out and walked away. That’s what he did. I’m not exaggerating.

Now, maybe people who live in Nebraska just don’t read as much as people from my State of Missouri, but I doubt it. It could be that this man just has a skewed idea of the bookish world and readers in general . . . I sure hope so!

Whatever the case, it made me ask myself – why do I cling so desperately to my paper-and-ink books? After all, it’s not nearly as convenient to tote around books like Middlemarch or Mansfield Park than it is to simply click it on my tablet and start reading. And let’s not even talk about the difference between having 3,000 books uploaded to your e-reader . . . versus owning 3,000 paper and hardback books that are slowly pushing you out of your own home . . . ahem, not that I have that problem.

Why do I put up with it? What is the superhuman pull of paper and ink and, let’s face it, possibly even spine glue and dust jackets? Because really for me, it is a superhuman pull.

MEMORIES . . .

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Nothing has such an insistent tug as childhood memories. At least, not for me. The stories I experienced, the places I journeyed to through them, the places I sat while reading them, the walks home from the library with arms-to-chin piles of books, the feel of my childish hands on a book’s hard spine . . . those memories will be with me for most of my life, I imagine. And they’re incredibly strong, deeply happy memories. Maybe the coming generation will have those memories with their Kindles, too . . . but somehow I just can’t imagine the dearness of those memories ever being quite the same.

SENSES . . .

Ok, this is a big one for me.

A few days ago I finished a chapter of the book I’m currently reading and my husband looked at me and said, “Why do you look at your book like that every time you stop reading?”

“Umm . . . what do you mean? All I did was shut it and put it down.”

“Nope. Every time you get done reading you close your book and give it a strange look. Every single time. It’s kinda weird.”

“I do?” And then I believe I blushed. This is a man I’ve been married to for 12 years. I can’t remember ever blushing in front of him for, well, anything. But this felt . . . strangely personal. Because the moment he pointed it out, I realized it was true, although I’d never given it a moment’s thought before then.

Apparently I get a little doe-eyed with my books. So what? I bet lots of people do. Right . . .?

That beautiful sound paper makes when I flip pages all at once, or the sound when I let a single page slide through my fingers. The fresh scent of new paper, the sharp smell of ink, even the nose-tickling mustiness of an old, dusty book from my Grandma’s shelf. The very sight of a book or, better yet, a whole shelf of books, their motley, mismatched spines like a beacon to something deep within me. The feel of a book’s squared edges against my palm, its heaviness in my hands as I take it from a shelf.

You know, when I first read The Chronicles of Narnia, the whole box set of them that I owned had a distinct scent to the pages. Who knows what caused it – I imagine something as simple as the combination of ink and paper the publisher used. But whatever it was – to this day when I smell the pages of another book with that same scent, I am instantly transported straight back to my childhood bedroom, with Narnia swirling all around me. I even sometimes feel the ghostly twinge of the crick I got in my neck from burying myself in those books for such long periods of time.

“O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come.” – Richard Llewellyn

SLOWING DOWN . . .

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Those first two reasons are good enough, for me, that a third one wouldn’t even be necessary. But I’ve noticed that, as I get older, I’ve dug my heels in and become quite old-fashionedly stubborn about my books. After some thought, I believe it has to do with my need for control in a world that moves too quickly and demands too much.

A book in my hand represents a slowing down of life, a focusing of my attention to what is in front of me. By picking up a book I feel as if I’m pulling myself out of the tumult of the e-world (or even, sometimes, the world in general) and giving it an emphatic “no.”

STORIES ARE STORIES

Yet in the end, a book’s truest pleasure comes from the words that are written – not the object from which you read them. Stories – good stories – will always be important in their own right, whether told by mouth, written on papyrus, scrawled with crayons on construction paper (those are the ones my son writes for me!), printed with ink on paper, or published on an electronic device.

There is no right or wrong here. Stories are stories and I will always, always love a well-told one.

It’s just that I’ll enjoy it much more if it’s on paper 🙂

 

Tell me, do you have strong feelings about the particular form a book takes?

 

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About bookishashlee

Ashlee is the author of The Word Changers, a Christian YA fantasy that released June 2014.

Posted on June 10, 2015, in Ashlee's Everyday, Books, Inspiration, Reading and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Oh, sosososo true. I also find that I remember books better when I have a paperback version versus and ebook version – I guess because it feels more personal, and every time I look at it, the cover brings back the memories. On an ereader, all books look pretty much the same.
    And plus, print copies are just so pretty. ❤ 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Read, Write, Laugh, DANCE and commented:
    YES!! We need to keep real books alive!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the smell and feel of a paperback! Paperbacks are great gifts also. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I smell my books ALL the time. All the time. My wife makes fun of me, but I don’t care. It’s such a comforting smell, especially old books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha … love it!! I keep a stack of books by my bed and, even if I have no intention of reading one, I’ll randomly grab one and just flip its pages in front of my face over and over. You’re right, it’s like a comfort thing. And my husband used to make fun of me, too. He’s toned it down now to just rolling his eyes 😉

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  5. I definitely prefer paper-and-ink books. They seem more personal, somehow. However, I do like eBooks as well, particularly on trips.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I definitely agree with the first two! I love something that I can hold. You can “bury your nose in a book,” but an ereader? Eh, probably not.

    But also sometimes I just get tired of starting at a screen all day. Our world relies so heavily on technology. If I’m writing, I’m on the computer. Blogging, watching TV, sometimes at work too- I’m a cashier and I stare at a screen half the time. It’s nice to do something independent of electricity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m just picturing someone smashing their face into an e-reader … haha! No, you can’t really bury your nose in one, can you? 🙂 And you’re absolutely right – I too am swamped with looking at screens all day, whether it’s checking email on my phone or writing on my laptop (also, I used to work in Financial Aid and, after that, in Medical Transcription, both huge screen-time jobs)…so I get sooo sick of screens. Ugh.

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  7. I love the convenience of eBooks and I definitely love my Nook, but you’re right—there’s something magical about a paper-and-ink book. 🙂

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  8. So true. I read ebooks more often that I would like. There’s no way I could afford all of the out of copyright books I’ve read online. I’ve only ever spent money on an ebook once though and I still got the paper copy from the library afterwards so my brothers could read it. You can’t really lend ebooks.

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  9. Oh yes, I still have not brought myself to reading an e book…. I own about three but as I don’t have anything to read them on except the computer… well none of them have been read. I tell myself I will read them one day… maybe after I finished all the ones on my shelf….. like that is ever going to happen…

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  10. Everything about this post. Just. Everything. I don’t read books on a screen. I still don’t own an ereader and I probably never will. Paper pages have history to them. I own some books that were printed in the early 1900s. One as early as 1910, I believe, and to think about the hands that touched those pages, the people they belonged to, what their world looked like as they read this same story before me…. it’s humbling, and deepening. There’s a depth to reading a paper book that I just can’t imagine coming close to with an ereader.

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    • Beautiful thoughts!! I completely agree. My Mom is traveling in Ireland right now and my one request, when she asked what I wanted her to bring me, was a book from a quirky secondhand bookstore somewhere. I want to hold a book in my hands that has been halfway across the world, passed from hand to hand in Irish households, had a history that I can only imagine . . . I love that thought.

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  11. I love the point of the “Slowing down . . .” you mentioned. Most of my activities (i.e. school, writing, corresponding with friends) are done on the computer, and taking and reading a physical book is a really great break from that. To hold something real and have a real experience — it’s wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well written. A paper book is primal, closer to source…

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes! Every last reason that you gave, Ashlee! Just the other night, I don’t know how many times I stuck my nose into my copy of the Odyssey before I started reading it! I just love that book smell! And while I do have a Kindle, and it’s useful for traveling with so that my precious books don’t get injured, I will always prefer a paperback to an ebook.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. MY GOODNESS I love this so much there’s something so comforting about a real book there are memories in the pages I love underlining and marking pages that I really love you just can’t do that with an ebook

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  15. Oh, I agree 100%! I have a Kindle, but I bought it so I could do beta reading. When I’m not beta reading or travelling (it is handy on an airplane, I’ll admit), the Kindle sits untouched on my bookshelf, often for weeks at a time. I have a whole pile of free ebooks on my Kindle (I never spend money on ebooks) that I’m afraid I’ll never read, simply because they’re on my Kindle and not on the bookshelf.

    I, too, stare at whatever book I’m reading after I close it, maybe to read the summary for the umpteenth time or admire the cover yet again, or perhaps just to ease myself back into the “real world.” And I’m so glad you included that bit about your Narnia books, because I have the same thing happen with Misty of Chincoteague. My childhood copy has a distinct smell, and one time I picked up another book and, upon smelling it (as I often do with books), was hit with a wave of nostalgia because it smelled like Misty of Chincoteague.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Um, Yes!! Your list could be my own. Did you say “doe-eyed”? Clearly we are literary-senses sisters!! hahahahahha!!! I DO LOVE the memories and sense-inspiring, etc… things about paper-and-ink books; but, I am SO grateful for my e-reader. I figured out how to make the stories more my own… I leave a LOT of comments. a LOT! I left over 2 hundred (2-0-0) in Mortis by Hannah Cobb, for example. highlighting is not enough for me. then I have trouble remembering why i felt it needed to be highlighted. it requires commentary (even if it is only to myself). hahahah… So… I miss more paper books, to be sure, but what I lacked for, say, nearly 9 or 10 years while living in this non-English speaking country, I have made up for on that mechanical book. I am learning a different way of getting on with my new literary friends, and making new author-friends because of it. Woohoo!!! I am dreading the day it dies. That will be a problem for me. I am slightly obsessing over it already. KNowing that things just don’t last as long as they used to has me a little paranoid. But, at least I can enjoy it till then!! 🙂 Fun share, thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Friday 5s: Paper or eBook? | Light and Shadows

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