Defences of the old-skool paper-and-ink book against the nefarious Borg-like proponents of the e-book too often sound, for all their passion and sincerity, as if they should be read aloud by Wilfred Brimley, or even Andy Rooney . Call it a fatal folksiness. This piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, listing all the ways in which paperbacks have it over e-books, is not really any different, though it does point out an important advantage possessed paper books: their stick-aroundedness.
For those of us who read books (I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but it should be) there’s nothing quite like:
- Rediscovering an old friend of the dustier shelves and getting reacquainted (Catch-22);
- Lending a book to a friend because you think they will enjoy it (Darkly Dreaming Dexter);
- Getting it back;
- Giving copies of your favourite books (To Kill A Mockingbird, Lord Of The Flies, No Country For Old Men, anything by Chuck Palahniuk) to your children and hoping they’ll get as much joy out of them as you did. Then maybe, one day, they’ll take it down from their bookshelf, pass it on to their children and say, “My Dad gave me this.” It’s just as Kahlil Gibran wrote: “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” And if, like Robin Hood, you can attach a little written note to your arrow, all the better.
Try doing that with an e-book.
Fair enough. Though it should be pointed out that the ability to be leant out and passed on is far less a boon for publishers of books than it is for readers. Just saying.