Sunday, August 22, 2010

Can't see the wood for the trees...

...can't see the book for the technological advancements.

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I love books.

I am quite anal about them.

Happy to lend them to you,
to share the love, joy and excitement 
and to get some dog-eared pages happening.
It just shows that they are well loved.

But you absolutely HAVE to return them.
And nothing pees me off more than to have my lovingly collected series change cover mid-series.
Why, printing people, why?

I am not a book snob.
In fact, quite the opposite.
Years of studying books in high school put me off books that are hard work.
Plus I was so in awe of what was hidden within "Wuthering Heights" that I was scared
to read a book and risk missing so much amazing meaning. 

I read trashy novels, crime novels, some non-fiction,
rarely anything of too much substance.

But, now with 3 children under foot,
and a daily yearning to sew,
reading for hours on end
at home, on the weekend or on holiday is a distant memory.

But I do love books.

But what about the electronic variety?
When a friend living overseas recently bought a Kindle for her daughter for those long distance flights
when visiting home,
I understood...but still secretly cringed.

Cheaper to buy books that way;
more convenient for such occasion.
And I appreciate the tree-sparing aspect of electronic books.

And now I have a 7 year old who would read all day, every day,
if things like sleep, school and the need to eat didn't get in the way.

It is a joy to see him love books the way that both his father and I did.
Trying to sneak the light back on
to read "just" another couple of pages
(He hasn't yet gotten a torch under the covers like both his mum and dad did)

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We visit the school and council libraries. Lots.But we also travel long distances and interstate due to family commitments.
We could honestly pack dozens of books for him for a 7 day visit interstate.
One luggage allowance alone for books.

So, finances allowing, what do we do?
The idea of having access to the weight and space efficiency of an electronic book system is attractive.
The idea that we can get him cheaply as many books as he wants whenever he wants is fantastic.
But I just can't get past the concept that books shouldn't need a power supply.
Books shouldn't be hard and cold.
Books shouldn't be a machine.

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But I want our children to grow up holding books,
thumbing through the pages,
being able to smell those pages,
carrying a book around as an essential take-everywhere item, like keys and a wallet,
to find joy in rummaging through stalls of old books at markets,
to get excited when discovering a new author,
and to take some of those books that we are reading to them now,
that they love,
and to keep them
and sit on their kids' bed when the time comes
and read them to their own children
and teach them the joy that is a real life book.

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Tracy said...

I totally get the love of the book. My house is jammed packed with them and magazines. But there's a point where you can't jam anything more into a tiny 4 room cottage and shed. I'm pretty lazy at using the local library too. So We have gone the electronic readers, with an ipad. Now they don't feel the same as books but they do have their advantages, you don't need the torch under the covers ;) You don't have to search all the bookshops for books they don't stock. With places like Amazon Kobo and a few other ebook sellers it's instant download :) I don't have to find a space for those books to go on my bookcase either. I can just buy the 'special' books my kids love like Andy Griffiths ;) And some of the nicest ebooks are very interactive so my kids get to immerse themselves even more into the story.
But then I am a gadget queen! But I've used my ipad everyday since I've bought it and have to fight the kids for it too. Books, web, videos, images, word processing and apps all in one small package.

willywagtail said...

I can't see that electronic books are healthy either. We seem to have lost the fear of cancer from our screens but does that mean that there will not be health problems associated down the track. And you just can't cuddle a computer can you?! Cherrie

zofia said...

we are a big book-loving family. Coming out of our ears here, and it will never change! We're definitely stuck in our ways :D

Tracy said...

There are proven carcinogens in ink and paper that doesn't put me off handing a book or paper.

becci said...

Oh I know what you are saying Tas. But I went a bought and ebook reader. So I buy real books - the ones that I HAVE to have and hold and read again. And then the books I that I think might be interesting I download. Of course now I have a list of book I have downloaded that I want to buy because i might want to read them again and I NEED to hold them!!

Helen said...

I didn't think I would ever use an e-book reader, but I cam across a book that was online only. There were 3 in the series at that stage. I was hooked.
Once had an iphone, there was a whole world of reading convenience. Now I can squeeze reading in anywhere, anytime, without lugging heavy bulky books with me. In the doctors waiting room, waiting for the after school pickup. Waiting for the late night teens party pickup. All those times where you sit and twiddle your thumbs impatiently thinking I wish I remembered to bring a book. Now I always have one with me.Real life books still have their place. There are a LOT of them in my house. I wouldn't trust an electronic source to be forever, but e-books have their place too. One day they will get you too.. you won't be able to resist drawing towards the light me... you know you want to...MWAHAHAHAHA

Liz said...

So, so true Tas. We are a huge book family here too (well, excluding DH). In fact my mum has been going through my old books, and even some of hers to bring up for my 7 year old who has the reading bug. I do agree that they take up room, but we did just re-arrange DS's bedroom to fit a bookcase in it. We prune the bookcase occasionally, and hand the books on to others to enjoy.
I personally read ones that my mum has bought (she is my personal library), but I could never succumb to an e-reader, I like to hold my books, and the screens just hurt my eyes too much.

Lola Nova said...

I have a hard time imagining myself reading an electronic book. As a child I would scour the library and run my hands over the pages, smell that book smell and get lost. I want the same for my child I guess. She also has vision issues so, I wonder if the screen would hard on her eyes. It's an interesting question in these electronic times.