7 Days without Paper: Day 1

Since admitting that I usually prefer paper-and-ink books to ebooks, I’ve been trying to figure out why. The answer finally came today, over lunch, as I was reading my ebook copy of Imagine. I read the phrase, “the book you hold in your hands,” and I realized that I wasn’t holding the book in my hands. I wasn’t touching it at all — it was propped in a stand in front of me, and I barely even needed to touch it to turn the page.




No matter how much I try to prop a paper book, part of me usually has to be touching it, or it will shut itself. That tactile quality isn’t as trivial as it seems — most book lovers have very exact ways we treat our books. Some of us protect our spines, and some of us crack them. Some of us keep our books pristine, and some of us drop them in the bathtub, or shove them to the bottom of the bag so they emerge wrinkled (or even — gasp — torn). Some of us bookmark, and some of us dog ear pages. Some underline and scribble in the margins, but others wouldn’t dare write in a book. Some of us loan our books to friends, and others protect our library at any cost. The point is: The way many of us interact with books is intimate. We want more interaction with a book, not less. To us, reading an ebook adds distance that we don’t want.


I suppose an argument could be made that we’ll begin to personalize ebook interactions the same way. But, somehow, I doubt it. Everyone I know who has an iPhone interacts with it the exact same way with the device itself, although we may use it for different things. It’s pretty much the same with a computer, and with an ereader. We don’t underline on Facebook. Nobody dog ears Instagram. And, at least so far, I don’t want to curl up with my ereader.

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