Why I Love Paper Books

Reposting (with a little editing) my comments from a facebook conversation here:

Regarding the switching over from reading paper books to purely ebooks for whatever reasons: Not that I don’t see that the words and stories and characters are what ultimately most readers want to “get out” of books they read. I too read books on my computer, on my phone, on kindle and iPads and I get about as much joy out of the content as reading a paper book.

However, I cannot stress enough the value of books as objects of art and am always in awe by the artistry of expert book designers and producers: the tactile pleasure that one can gain from touching a specifically selected paper (say, the graph paper quality materials for the Templeton Twins books or the rough cut edged paper for The Tale of Desperaux) or even just simply the weight or trim size that varies from book to book so there is a physical memory of a particular book — holding horizontally Where the Wild Things are and opening it wide when sharing with a child on my lap or carrying the heavy tome of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I do not ever want to lose the opportunity to have all these added values that so far only paper books can achieve.

I am holding a dainty book in my hand — it has a lot of white space (because it’s a free verse novel) and the page number is placed in a very unconventional place, with a bit of decorative design (that echoes the theme of the story) around each number… This makes me want to say, “Thank you,” to the book designer, to those who still take great care and artistic pride in making the books perfectly to enrich my life!

When seeing someone else carrying a book I have read and loved and their thorough absorption in the world it opened for them, I feel an instant connection. Alas, with all the e-readers, I can no longer play I-Spy-What-Others-Read on the road or on the subway! I am deprived! I tell you, Deprived!!!

(An added thought about the environment… paper, when produced without extreme logging practice and with effort of recycling, etc. is bio-degradable and can be “regrown” always…. I wonder, sometimes, about the electronic and plastic parts of eReaders and devices: are they more environmentally friendly? When old devices are tossed – recycled – what happens to them, really?)

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