Tuesday night I sat in my creative writing class and watched a video interview of an author in Oklahoma. In her room were tons of books, and she quoted some of them including The Great Gatsby. She spoke of how writers read their favorite books and favorite authors when they get “stuck” or just need inspiration to get started for the day. Looking at books reminds her of “why she writes”.
We then talked about how important books are to writers. The instructor mentioned that you have to be a great reader to be a great writer. We absorb – style, voice, words, flow, subjects.
As I sat there I pondered the new digital format books, the demise of publishers, agents, editors, and I suppose even book binders and every day employees. I wonder, I thought, how you walk into a house without books – big, thick, hard cover or soft, paper smelling books. The real kind that you can touch, open, feel, smell, turn to a favorite page and read an excerpt. How can I even imagine such a world?
My daughter and one of my good friends both got Kindles for Christmas. A Kindle, in case you live on a deserted island somewhere, is a digital reader. It’s made of metal and plastic and tiny little memory cards and “chips” – whatever those are. It is one thirty second of an inch thick and five by seven inches in size. The screen lights up and you flip imaginary pages to read a “book”. You can download thousands of books at a time. You can even “loan” a book to another Kindle friend (all of this applies to Nook or any e book) for two weeks, and you can split the ten dollar charge.
Whether we want it or not, I’ve been told by published authors that it is the future. All magazines, papers, journals, books – will be in digital, e book format. No more paper! Even now my creditors push me for paperless bills, and I haven’t hand-written a letter in years. I check email and texts several times a day instead. So—I get it.
I get it, but I don’t like it. In fact I loathe it. If anyone really wanted to shut down our country a simple device to destroy our paperless world would do the job. Everyone says it’s backed up – it’s safe. Seems to me like backups, unless they’re on paper, don’t quite protect us that much. Maybe I don’t understand….
But here’s my personal, emotional concern. I want to look at my bookshelves, run my hand along them when I dust. I want the thrill of carefully opening the binding of a brand new book. I’ve always wanted a library room with shelves from floor to ceiling and a sliding ladder to reach them. I want to skim a book for yellow highlights to study for a test. I want to get out a dog-eared text and turn only to those pages of import. I want to reach for a worn out novel and read a passage.
I will not be able to open a Kindle to read Pat the Bunny to a granchild— How would you pat the soft cotton-ball tail on the back of the storybook?