I had a lecture a while back at university that discussed the pros and cons of books and eBooks. It’s never a debate I’ve really considered before, but it got me thinking.
When I was younger my mum used to take me and my sister to the library every couple of weeks to hire out books. I used to think it was magical – a place that held so many stories – how could one building possibly contain all of them? Unfortunately now libraries are becoming a thing of the past in the UK because of the state of the economy and such. Both my local libraries, in the village where I live, and in the nearest town centre, have been closed, and it really is a crying shame. I pity the children nowadays because they won’t have the same access to books as I did growing up.
Thankfully, now that I’m old enough to have my own money, I can buy and keep all my favourites. And they’re all special to me. Some I enjoy more than others, but regardless, I paid good money for them, so they all go pride of place on my floor-to-ceiling bookshelf that stands in a corner of my room, draped in heart-shaped fairy lights. Books are a part of my life; they’re ingrained in my identity. They made me who I am today. So I can’t help but have a certain sentimentality about them.
On the flip side of the coin, I like technology and I like to keep up with it (as best I can, since mostly you have to have the money to do so). But initially, when it was a new thing, eBooks did appeal to me. It made sense to keep all your books in one place where you could access them easily instead of having them physically take up space in your room or in your bag…
But I still don’t remain fully convinced. From holding so many different books as a little girl, to collecting them throughout my teenage – and now adult – years, they’ve made an impression on me. There’s something about holding a book in your hands that makes you feel closer to the characters. There’s something about leafing through the pages that is satisfying – especially when you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for something to happen and you can’t turn the page fast enough. There’s something about that unique smell of the paper that reminds me of home, of comfort, of giddy excitement. The book becomes a talisman of your childhood, of your memories, of you. Ironically, my favourite books are the most worn and battered. But that’s good, because they’ve lived a life with me, they age with me. And the more wrinkly the spine grows, the more weak the binding, the more I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve read it enough times to leave my mark on it several times over.
An eBook just doesn’t have that same appeal to me. As my lecturer observed, there’s a kind of aura to a book that holds much more than the story printed on its pages. It holds an association with you, and perhaps most importantly, it holds the evolution of your emotions.