I was reading about an innovative eBook writer and the article mentioned the ongoing debate about books vs eBooks and e-readers. For me it’s as determined by age and space as it is by aesthetics.
Yes, I love books, and have since I was old enough to hold one. Yesterday I stopped at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square and was immediately intoxicated by all the books. It’s a sensation I’ve enjoyed all my life. I can so quickly and completely lose myself in a bookstore, to the point where I become disoriented by all the book covers and what I know are millions of words surrounding me in a room. I still fantasize about living in a home or apartment whose walls are composed entirely of bookshelves. I’d done my best to achieve that when I was single, but when I moved back to Manattan to live with my partner Frank, there was simply nowwhere to put all those books, so I donated or threw out several hundreds of them.
For me there are also two very significant considerations: text I can read, and the simple weight of books. I stopped enjoying holding a book up on my chest as I lay in bed or on the couch. Books are heavy things. Carrying them around in a back pack or pouch gets very old, very quickly. They really aren’t well suited to travelling. More importantly, I had all but stopped reading, because almost every book I read had a different font and my eyes are slowly deteriorating. I’m not going blind, but I can’t adjust to a half dozen different fonts, in as many font sizes, the way I used to. An e-reader (in my case a Kindle) offers a very consistent read, and if I need to enlarge the font I can. As for paperbacks, forget it, I haven’t been able to comfortably read a paperback in years.
So I go with the Kindle and enjoy book stores for the experiences of being high on all those words and colors and spines while I’m there. I think, too, that as I get older, I’m increasingly aware of the temporal nature of life, and the inevitability that I will someday, fairly soon, not be around to enjoy a wall or three of books, and someone will have to get rid of them. It’s a good exercise in letting go now, to stop embuing books (or any other objects) with sentimental value, and to just enjoy a good read while I’m reading it. When it’s over, it’s over. End of story.