The buzz about ebooks and speculation that they will displace print books in the near future has got me thinking about the outlook for books, bookstores and libraries.
I've read articles and blogposts about a neat, organised future that the ebook revolution will unfurl. I've heard the radio ads which posit that just as the mp3 superseded CDs, the iPad and Kindle will make hard copy books obsolete. The minimalists among you are salivating at the thought and hey, it makes sense. I can personal attest to having damaged (probably irreversibly) my shoulders with years of lugging around stupidly huge novels, just so I could read another chapter or two in my infrequent and short breaks from class, work, etc. And yes, to be honest, if (when I go back to university this year) there are cheap e-versions of textbooks available, I will unashamedly plunder that particular source
I am, however, in total denial that the end is nigh for print books! Books are some much more than just the words on the page. I feel like the books I own are a part of me! It feels kind of materialistic, because the truth is I don't need to keep those books in my bookcase (so bounteous I swear it will give birth to something inky soon) not if the story contained has touched me and the ideas therein have intermingled with my own imagination. And yet, I feel that my books are a physical reflection of my personality, my thoughts and the things I value.
I particularly love old books, found in second hand book stores, which often have Bolognese (or other) sauce and ink stains on random pages. Or books from the library where if you're lucky, you sometimes find the previous borrower's shopping list in the middle. I also loved reading the cramped handwritten notes in the margins of prescribed texts from the university library. The physical story of the book, that tantalising connection with other readers is what I love. Reaching up, grabbing a favourite read from my dilated bookcase and pressing it into the open palms of a dinner guest saying: "This is the one, you HAVE to read it." that's what I'm holding onto.
Print books are romantic and those of us horders (or as I prefer, "collectors") will always want to fill our homes with (read show off) the beautiful and special books that have coloured our lives, don't cha think?