Books that nag
A salon.com article by Emma Silvers (26, whose age enters into the point of the article) talks about her dislike of ebooks,a despite being of the gadget generation. And she brings up an interesting point:
Out of every argument I’ve heard in favor of e-readers — no dead trees, portable research, “it’s the future,” etc. — my least favorite might be the central point of the thing: the fact that it allows you to choose from thousands of books at any given time. I simply don’t want that kind of potential for distraction. Would I have ever made it through any book by Herman Hesse if I’d had the choice, with a press of a button, to lighten the mood with a little Tom Robbins? Will anyone ever finish “Infinite Jest” on a device that constantly presents other options?
There is a physicality to a book that both contributes to the reading experience (studies are indicating that sensory stimulation–sound, touch–make the brain remember better, even in non-ADD readers: there’s a reason why teenagers listen to music while they do their homework) and that demands attention. An actual, physical to-be-read pile is present in a way ebooks are not. If you don’t want to think about all those ebooks you paid $10 for and haven’t read, you just don’t look at your list. To do that with real books would require a room with a perennially closed door, and even then, it would nag every time the homeowner cracked the door to toss in another purchase.
I don’t know about you, but I rarely give away books that I haven’t read at least a little of. They sit on the shelf and glower at me from under their dust until I am finally driven by guilt, a year or two (or six) after I’d bought the thing (having read a review or met the author or loved the cover or…), and I snap ” Oh all right, then!” and take it down and open it. More often than not, to discover that I was right to buy it in the first place.
Books on my bedside table get read, sooner or later. Books in my e- reader? Probably not.
Really, the Pope and Jewish mothers everywhere ought to come out against e- readers. Guilt can be a powerful force for good.