Electronic books are not binding

By Jeff Salter

Okay, I understand that the newest generation has been raised – IS being raised – with nearly all information (except perhaps traditional highway signs) in electronic form.  Yeah, I realize print is more expensive, time-consuming … and uses byproducts from trees.  Sure, I know that you can hold many hundreds of titles on a reading device, whereas those same copies in print would fill a room.

Yeah, the digital revolution is here.

But don’t take away my REAL books.  Please.

I grew up loving books … back when ‘book’ meant many pages bound together.  I’ve read nearly all my life and 99.4% of that reading was on paper.  I like the dimensions of a real book — the heft, the smell, the touch.

Electronic reading is too sterile for me.

Yes, I broke down and got a Kindle Touch about a year ago.  Yes, I have hundreds of novels stored on it.  Yes, they’re a LOT cheaper than print copies. Yes, I’ve read several.  No, the words are not different than they would be if it were paper-based.  But it’s a totally different experience.

As I’m writing this, I have in front of me one volume of a seven volume set of Louisa M. Alcott’s works.  They are my wife’s books, handed down (I believe) from her grandmother.  Printed in 1892 by Roberts Brothers of Boston.  Frontispiece and other illustrations throughout.  Binding specifications:  gathered and sewn, rounded and backed.  Decorated spine and front cover.  According to the price list in the last pages, this volume sold for the princely sum of $1.50.

Folks, those are books!

As a word of context for my views on hardcover and paperback books, I guess I should explain that I was involved with the library profession for about 30 years. Entered it, in part, because of my life-long love of BOOKS. Back then, books were books… period.

Nobody asked, but here are some of the reasons I don’t like reading a book on a device.

* batteries discharge … and sometimes die completely.

* I worry that the books I “own” in digital form could disappear with one burst of concentrated magnetism … or that ‘pulse’ I keep reading about which will fry everybody’s databases and drives.

* mine is difficult to navigate.  I can’t put down book ‘A’ and go look for book ‘B’, or check something in book ‘C’ … without getting lost in the screens.

* navigation (and operation) has become my predominate activity instead of reading… and it occupies more time.  Aggravating rather than relaxing.

* often on the touch screen, my touch does not advance the page … or it advances TWO pages instead.  Or it sends me to a menu, or it does something else that I don’t want.

* with several of the titles I’ve read on my Kindle, I’ve never seen the book’s cover art.  When I can successfully locate the search function and actively search for the cover, it’s still rare for me to actually find the cover anywhere.

* I have a dozen other aesthetic reasons that I prefer print over electrons, but I can’t think of them all right now.

Questions:

What about YOU?  Do you (A) love digital readers, (B) hate digital readers, or (C) use the readers AND still read print books?

Which type of device do you have and do you like its workings?

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Electronic books are not binding

  1. Lisa Orchard says:

    I still love paperbacks! Especially when I’m reading by the lake! 🙂

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Me, too, Lisa. And it’s odd for me to remember that paperbacks were once thought of as “inferior” to hardcover monographs.
      And I wonder if one day people will look back at the digital issue and be surprised at how dimly they were viewed — by many — when first introduced.

      Like

  2. I had given all of my paperback books away when I bought my kindle…sadly, I wish I hadn’t as there are books I so want to read, but can’t remember the titles or authors of!

    However, due to my health issues, sometimes it’s just easier to hold my kindle as it’s not as heavy as my paperbacks are and only requires a few fingers to hold it.

    I love both kindle and paperback…I love the fact that all {two thousand} of my books are in one place {doesn’t make me a hoarder that way} and that the collection of paperbacks I do have are safely ensconced in my bookcase.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Oh, Angie …. it would break my heart to lose all my paperbacks!
      But I certainly understand how situations can change when physical ailments of one kind or another enter the picture. A typical hardcover book probably weighs 4-5 times as much as small Kindle.
      Another advantage of the devices is that you can increase the PRINT size … and some are equipped to translate the text into AUDIO format.
      So the devices are definitely friendlier to people with a wide variety of medical issues.

      Like

  3. Judy says:

    I agree with you. There is just something comforting and good about holding and reading. Real book. I hope we only use electronic ones for quick convenience and never as a substitute.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      yes, Judy, it completes the experience (for me) in a way that the Kindle device cannot deliver. Of course, I can acquire an entire library of electronic books for the cost of a few deluxe hardcovers!

      Like

  4. Terrie Mulligan says:

    I love the “real” books, but the RA is so bad in my hands it is difficult to hold them. I have a kindle Fire and bought one for each of my daughters, who also have RA. I do miss holding a book. There is something about the physical connection to it that is peaceful. But, we have to make adjustments in life as needed.

    Like

  5. Louisa Bacio says:

    I like the convenience of books on my Kindle. When I travel, I no longer have to bring four or five … just the Kindle. Well, that and the paperback I need to bring when the airlines won’t let you use electronics for the first and last 20 minutes.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Absolutely, Louisa — Instead of having to select which few books to take with you somewhere, you can have a virtual library at your disposal.
      You’ve evidently mastered the operation of the Kindle much better than I have. To me, the navigation is so awkward and frustrating.

      Like

  6. Traci says:

    I prefer physical books over electronic ones. Maybe it makes me old-fashioned, but it’s just the way I am. Having said that, I think there’s a place for both. For example, my dad went on an overseas cruise with my sister. He was able to load travel guides, language guides, and books to read for fun on his Kindle – only had to take one item on the plane but had access to lots and lots of stuff. That, to me, makes perfect sense. But I can’t see using an e-reader to read books that I have access to in print.

    The good news is that while kids are very tech savvy these days, the teens I serve at the library want the physical books – NOT the e-books. They actually turn up their noses at the idea of having to read something on an e-reader! It gives me hope that both mediums will be able to co-exist peacefully at some point.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Definitely a place for both, Traci — and I agree there are many very important ways in which the electronic versions of things can be so much more useful (not to mention, up-to-date). For one thing, though effective SEARCHING is an acquired talent, it is so much easier to search for things on the Net than the old-fashioned way with entire reference departments full of multi-vol. book sets. In many cases, the volume you needed might be missing or in use by somebody else! With the Net, that’s a problem of the past. Of course, the big trade-off is that the Net also gives you thousands of hits which are irrelevant to your needs … not to mention viruses!
      Very glad to hear that many of the teens you serve are still interested in physical books.

      Like

  7. Sherry Gloag says:

    I often wonder how many ebooks will still be around in 100 years time, regardless of how good they are?
    And I prefer paperback books, too.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Me too, Sherry. And that set of Alcott that I mentioned is already some 121 years old. Most of the volumes are in very nice shape. Just a couple have some loose pages and one or two have some insect damage to the cover — book mites, I think they’re called.
      If science fiction is to be believed, the “readers” in 100 years will simply have gizmos implanted into their brains. No more need for “education” as we now view it. They’ll be programmed instead. Scary.

      Like

  8. Sherry’s question is one that is a question I raise, (among others), in my post tomorrow.You can’t beat a real book! Jeff, I would LOVE to see Denise’s LM Alcott books!

    Like

  9. You’re preaching to the choir on this one, Jeff. I LOVE books. I also underline and annotate good writing in fiction and “cool stuff” in non-fiction. (Habit learned in prep school when we had to buy all our books for that very purpose.) I know. I know. They tell me I could do that on e-books too. But I’d never go back and “flip through” and e-book to find my favorite parts. I DO think e-books are terrific for travel, however.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      thanks for visiting today, Heather.
      Yeah, I love preaching to the choir — LOL
      Yes, I like to use bookmarks and sticky notes also — and no matter what anybody says, those are NOT as easy on a device!
      You know, it’s funny … even as I sit here and write that e-books are a comparatively “cold” reading experience for me, I have to acknowledge that my 3 novels and 1 short novel might not have been published had I waited for the traditional print route. I discovered Astraea Press, a relatively new digital-first royalty publisher … and feel I have a happy home there. Fortunately, they also release in print format once a certain level of sales has occurred.

      Like

  10. Iris B says:

    There’s not much that I can add to all of the above … the one point you raised, though, did make me question my kindle …. “they’re all stored with amazon” …. so I’m bit by bit transfering them onto my personal computer and try to convert them to pdf or another format to “Keep”.

    Like

  11. sharon ruffy says:

    I was a die hard paperback lover. then last year I bought a kindle paperwhite. still didn’t like it – the covers were not in color – and it is heavy. Then I got an kindle app for my cell phone and fell in love. I can change the color of the pages, increase the font – see the beautiful covers, and add light as needed. my only grip is that it cant be seen in a car or in the sun – (as a passenger). I still like paperbacks, but with my vision issues – I have trouble seeing the print on the paperbacks.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Having already struggled to make the adjustment to the rather small screen of the Kindle Touch, I doubt I’d be satisfied to view a book within the teeny window of my cell phone.
      Glad you like yours, however, Sharon.
      I’ve seen several people with what I guess are I-pads, with a screen that’s about 6 X 9 perhaps. That looks like the kind of device I could get to like… provided I could easily access menus and navigate screens.

      Like

  12. pjharjo says:

    What about YOU? Do you (A) love digital readers, (B) hate digital readers, or (C) use the readers AND still read print books?

    I’m sorry to hear of the problems you’ve endured with your Kindle, Jeff. It sounds to me like there is something wrong with your Kindle Touch, or it could be something wrong with the Kindle Touch, PERIOD. I have a Kindle Fire, and while I will never prefer digital over print, I have had no problems – other than “user errors,” with it. (By user error, I mean not reading the instructions and not using it the right way.)
    Other than that, I guess I can say I’m happy with it. I do most of my reading in bed at night and it is much more convenient to read with my lit up Kindle than to juggle a book and a small book light . I’ve already mentioned how I LOVE the smell of books and agree that digital will NEVER take the place of print.

    So I guess my choice of your options is, C.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      I’m guessing most active readers would select ‘C’ unless they are among the very few who have totally abandoned print materials.
      Glad you’ve had good results with your Fire, Janette.
      I was tempted to get that one, but at the time it was nearly double the cost of the Touch. Wish my Kindle was either the newer Fire or the older ‘regular’ model with buttons to push.

      Like

  13. Jo Grafford says:

    Must have both!! I enjoy eBooks for travel, convenience, and economy of space. My third-story library is nearing its maximum weight allowance for military moves. Just found that out a few months ago when the Army shipped us to Germany.

    On the other hand, I will NEVER get over my love affair with traditionally bound books. One of my most prized possessions is a 1937 4-volume edition of Les Miserables in French!! Leather-bound, still in the original box, paid 17 Euros over a glass of Moscato. Engaged in a delightful chat with the German owners of the antique store and browsed through a half dozen more rooms filled with Old World treasures before I polished off my glass and exited. Sigh… They’ll need to add a virtual gaming feature or something to the Nook and Kindle to match that experience.

    Like

    • jeff7salter says:

      Jo, I would LOVE to browse through some of the European book stores! Of course I’d need a translator in each country so I’d know what I was looking at. The public library where I used to work had an old collection of books in German — some were 200 yrs old. I never knew where we got them since they were in the collection when I arrived in 1980. As monographs, they were beautiful, but I had almost no idea what I was looking at unless I recognized the name, like Goethe for example.

      Like

  14. Give me a REAL book, please! LOL eBooks are a great idea, especially for travel and space saving. But when I sit down to read, I want to feel those pages turning. 🙂

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s