Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Words: Books as Physical Objects

Earlier today I heard from a friend who I haven't seen in months. She wanted to let me know since I am and always have been a notorious lover of books that a local bookstore is selling leather bound copies of classic novels at a really reasonable price in case I was interested. She herself is planning on getting at least two of her favorites mostly because she likes those stories, but also because they will look really pretty on her mantle above the fireplace in her home.

And so it got me to thinking about the good old ebook versus physical book debate. Now I've said before that it's very much a matter of personal preference. I own a Nook and love it, especially for when I travel or get the urge to buy something in the middle of the night. But that's just me, and that's not all the time. I also have a set of floor to ceiling bookshelves in my room that are nearly full with fiction, non fiction, reference, hardcovers and paperbacks of all sorts.

So this post is about why I appreciate the book as a physical object. Of course the value lies in the words on the pages, but many of these books, simply put, are beautiful. Carefully designed, a variety of colors and sizes, some old, some new. And behind each object is a story. I can tell you when and where I got almost all of these books on the shelves, what the occasion was, if I met the author, what that person was like, how I responded to the the journey contained between the front cover and the back. These are artifacts about my life and each one says a little bit about me, who I am and where I'm going.

I can't say the same for my ebooks.

And so, not just as a librarian but as a lover of these things which so many people are adement will be extinct in a few years' time, I say take care of your books. The books that have been passed on from my parents to me are treasures in my eyes, and I take care of these objects on my shelves because I can't wait to share them with the next generation some day as well. And I'll let them marvel at my Nook, too - maybe they'll have the same reaction to that as I did to my father's record player or my mother's 8-track tapes.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

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