My anthropologist husband, Mr. Bang Bang, said to me this weekend, "Culture is always changing. That is, in fact, the definition of culture. If it never changed, we wouldn't even have books."
So if you hate the inevitable march of culture (and it's eBooks), you have to forsake your beloved books as well.
I have come around to eBooks. Last year I published my own eBook campanion to Why Photgraphers Commit Suicide. You can't escape the reality that eBooks save trees, they save author's money (with bigger royalties due to lower production costs), and they save your customer both money and time (for example, if they need to download research material quickly for deadlines). In this brave new world, book-lovers will have categories of books they own: favorite books on a bookshelf and school books, research books or "books to take a chance on" for the mobile devices.
But as much as I appreciate the benefits of eBooks, there are still a few ways in which physical books rule:
- You can hallow out a book to sneak a gun into your lover who is in prison.
- Marooned in the cold wildnerness, you can use the pages of a book to start a fire and stay alive.
- You can read a book in a bathtub without the worry you will drop it into the water and subsiquently be out of a $300 phone.
- You can read a book on the beach without the fear it will be stolen from under your beach towel while you are tubing in the sea.
- Related to items #3 and #4, a book can survive water damage.
- With your physical book covers, you can impress other passengers on trains and plains. You're an intellectual, not a frivolous Draw Something gamer.
- You can become a connoisseur of the smell and feel of various book papers.
- You get to savor the delicious sound of flipping pages and spine bending.
- With paper, it's easier for Fascists to make a book burning look dramatic.
- It's harder for robbers to steal your entire library inadvertently while they are stealing your techie toys.
- You get to experience the feel of a pen as it rolls ink out to create your marginalia.
- You get the obsessive compulsive satisfaction of organizing and re-organizing your bookshelves to impress your house guests.
- Real books work in a pinch to steady lopsided dinner tables.
- Best of all is the joy of unpacking after a move and pulling all your books out of boxes with delight in remembering long lost treasures you somehow forgot you had.