maybe just because i'm always reluctant to try new technology. it took me years to get an iPod, and i had trouble switching to Gmail. but when it comes to this silly little, horribly-overpriced contraption, my hesitation is about more than just my stubbornness.
as i told jacob, i love books. even here on my blog i've gone on and on about how i love re-reading my favorites. i think books are wonderful -- not just their contents, but also their physical form. their smells, their feel in my hands as i sit in the sun. i like to dog-ear pages, maybe even highlight, so that i can return to the book later and remember instantly why i loved it. i can't get that in electronic form.
even more important to me, i love sharing books: lending a good book to a good friend, taking one off of his or her bookshelf as well. if we all switch over to the Kindle, we can no longer share, can we? how horrible! and don't get me started on the ridiculously high price of this latest must-have electronic.
i hadn't even thought about the sociological importance we lend to the books we see in a person's hand. lucky for us all, this fantastic Vanity Fair article examines the cultural snobbery associated with our book, music, and other collections -- all of which are becoming hidden as we digitalize our albums, films, and now our favorite novels.
As we divest ourselves of once familiar physical objects—digitize and dematerialize—we approach a Star Trek future in which everything can be accessed from the fourth dimension with a few clicks or terse audibles. Reading will forfeit the tactile dimension where memories insinuate themselves, reminding us of where and when D. H. Lawrence entered our lives that meaningful summer. “Darling, remember when we downloaded Sons and Lovers in Napa Valley?” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. The Barnes & Noble bookstore, with its coffee bar and authors’ readings, could go the way of Blockbuster as an iconic institution, depriving readers of the opportunity to mingle with their own kind and paw through magazines for free. Book-jacket design may become a lost art, like album-cover design, without which late-20th-century iconography would have been pauperized.grumpy Andrew Sullivan calls out superficial snobs like me, who might be holding onto objects like these books for the sake of vanity. maybe he's right, and our use of books as decoration and status symbols and bases on which to judge complete strangers will be better off left in the dust of the 20th century.
i can't really fathom buying the Kindle right now, or ever getting rid of my terribly worn copy of El Principito. but maybe in time i'll want to simplify life. and maybe that effing "iPod for books" will become affordable in the near future. until then, i'm still buying real books.
3 new ones this week, and so excited to get into them. stay tuned.