My friends and I had a discussion over Facebook earlier today. One of them just got a Kindle and found herself missing the feel of a holding an actual book while reading. And so we, along with another bookworm friend got into a discussion.
I love to read and, obviously, I love books. But not just the material in itself, but the actual physical thing. I love the weight of a book in my hands (not so much when I’m lugging it through an airport), the thrill you get when your bookmark’s nearer to the back of the book than the to front, the feel of really, really good book paper on your fingers. And the smell. Oh, the smell of new books. I’m a little ashamed to admit that one of my favorite things to do with a book is to riffle through the pages with the book right in front of my nose and just breathe in that lovely paper smell. And I’d like to think I’m not the only one who does that (or am I? Did I just make a slightly creepy admission?).
There’s also something about shelves and shelves of books that makes me feel at home. I don’t know what it is, maybe it was the hours I spent in our school library sitting on the cold linoleum tiles, taking my sweet, sweet time in choosing which Sweet Valley books to borrow, but I immediately feel a sense of calm and comfort when I walk into a bookstore. I get the same feeling when I look at my very modest collection of books, one I am slowly but surely adding to, in the hopes that someday I could call it even a mini library.
But my conscience is nagging me. Books mean paper. And paper means trees. If you think about the carbon footprint of getting that book into your hands (printing, binding, shipping, packing, etc.) then you’re really left with one option: the Kindle (although technically, there’s the Nook, too). Not only is it the infinitely greener alternative, it’s also the more convenient. No need to risk shoulder pain from carrying a hardbound book in your handbag, no need to put up shelves in your bedroom, no more hassle when moving homes. All you need is that tiny, thin gadget and you’re set for half a lifetime of reading.
All good sense and logic tells me that I should get the Kindle already. It’s probably just a matter of time anyway, before printed books become a thing of the past. But stubborn as I am, I don’t want to accept that. Because that means that my dream of a library, full of books that feel heavy in my hands, smooth under my fingers, is an even more distant reality than it already is. It’s not like I can fill my shelves with hundreds of Kindles. I don’t think that would look this good.
Kindle photo from amazon.com