It seems, nowadays, that on the subway, the bus, on park benches, the few people actually reading a book are not reading actual books. Instead, everybody can be found with their nose in an e-reader? It just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
Now, don’t get me wrong: I can understand the convenience of the Nook or the Kindle. Having your entire library with you at all times would certainly be good if you happen to finish what you’re reading halfway through your commute. But.. I don’t know if it would be for me.
I’ve tried e-reading on my iPad using the Kindle app. Having the classics available for free is what drew me to the idea. Whenever I finish a book, or forget a book, I pull out my iPod or my iPad and read “Little Women” because I got it for free. But something about not actually turning pages, and the knowledge that it is a digital file, makes me distrust the fact that it’s the real book. I know it’s illogical–Amazon is not going to post something that isn’t complete– but the thought nags in the back of my head and ruins the story for me.
This ability to read for free on an e-reader is also discouraging. Sure, having the classics available for free is fine, but when people illegally download books I have to protest. “It’s the same as illegally downloading music,” they argue. But it’s not. A singer does not make all of her profits off of CD or song sales. Singers perform concerts and this is their main source of revenue. Authors, unlike singers, do not perform shows; their only source of income is book sales, that and the tips they make at waitressing. Authors shouldn’t have to wait tables to make ends meet. If a book is extremely popular, the author should be making money off that book, instead of knowing people are reading it (albeit a good thing) but not seeing any profits.
It’s far too late now to halt the e-book craze. If they’re getting more people to read again, then I really can’t fault them. I just hope e-books don’t mean the end of real books. Personally, I love the feeling of holding a real book, turning the pages, folding down the corner of the page when it’s time to get off the bus. I don’t want to romanticize the musty smell of paper in an old book or the satisfaction of cracking the spine of a brand new book… but I will. Because for me those are as much a part of reading as the actual words on the page.
No, I won’t say e-books are awful, because they aren’t. For many, e-books are the only way they’re going to read. And reading is always better than not reading. I just pray paperbacks aren’t going to go extinct, because then what would I do?