This year my offspring gave me a Nintendo DS for Christmas with the little mini Zelda adventure on it. I admit I’m having fun. I also like the size of the contraption and the little stylus to control the action by touching the screen. I’m enjoying it so much that last night I had an amazing thought: if I like this little gizmo so much how would it be to read a book on one? Or something similar as I have no idea what a Kindle or Sony Reader looks like or any other electronic book reader.
Now if you knew me and mine you would know incredibly revolutionary this thought is. I may have been one of the first people on the planet to own a computer, but I only succumbed to either a laptop or a cell phone this last couple of years, and only this morning did I become the proud owner of an iPod for the first time in my life. It was an anniversary gift.
I love books. I love the weight, the texture, the feel, the scent of them. I love the way that the black ink print looks on the creamy or yellowing pages. I love paper. I love the musty used bookstore smell of old paperbacks. I love the artwork on the cover and I love to handle books and I love the look of a wall full of bookshelves full of books.
Replacing all that with a little handheld electronic device? Can I enjoy this? Will it satisfy my aesthetic sensibilities and my sensual pleasure in reading? More importantly how tangible is it? If I were to publish my novel would I feel like I have a book out if it was just puffs of ethereal pixels that I can’t even see?
When I consider all these things, my Luddite self battling with my geek self, I remember that the vast majority of my authorial outpourings have always been published electronically and these days I do the majority of my reading online. Where is the difference? Furthermore how many trees could I save and how much easier to move without fifty cartons of books to hump around? Could I just reserve for my book collection art books and reference? The old beautifully bound book of poetry? Perhaps paper books become works of art in of themselves and the rest can fit on my electronic reader.
Of course the wheels of change can move quickly, or it might be a while before I take the plunge, but the thought is there and the journey begun.