The Importance of the Humble Paperback Book

Reading is one of those pleasures in life that I wish I had more time for. I love nothing better than on a rainy day just curling up on the couch under a doona with a beagle sleeping on my feet and reading a book. It is pure bliss. But the most important part of that experience is the humble paperback book itself. I wholeheartedly agree with the unnamed author of Reading? It’s Already Covered (the SMH didn’t bother to note who wrote it) when he/she sings the praises of the paperback book over the e-book. I can see the appeal of the e-book, especially for people who are traveling or commuting to work. To have 200 books on one handheld reader is much more easier to carry around than 200 paperbacks. However, when at home, I just can’t see the appeal of sitting down with a e-book when you can sit down with a paperback. An e-book looks exactly the same regardless of what book you are reading, but with paperbacks, every single book is unique. It feels different in your hands than the book you read previously, the pages smell different and if you are a disgusting person like I am, then the food stains on the pages are different. Actually it is kinda fun playing identify the food stain on books – you get bonus points if you are eating the same food as the stain.

If e-books took off, what would book cover designers do for a living? Also what else would we line every single wall in our living room with if not with bookcases? Bookstores would be reduced to an ATM like contraption in which you could plug in your e-book and download the latest bestseller. Second hand bookstores would no longer exist except for a small handful to cater for those weird people who collect paper books. Yuck! Imagine that horrible future. I love technology, but this is one area where technology is not welcome. It would take away the many simple pleasures I have in my life. I can spend hours wandering through a bookstore and even longer in second hand bookstores. I find it extremely relaxing, although it is a bit frustrating as there are so many books I want to buy, but can not afford to. Also there is a sensory competent to reading books that an e-book just can not replicate.

I will not be one of those people racing to purchase the new Amazon Kindle or the Dymocks’ iLiad. I will be at home on my couch with my paperback book.


16 responses to “The Importance of the Humble Paperback Book

  1. I do find paper books far easier to read than ebooks…

    But I don’t have anywhere NEAR enough bookshelves! If I had a non-light-emitting tablet which displayed text dynamically… oh, I’d be happy!

    Except if a cataclysm of some sort occurred, and I lost power, of course… :P

  2. I agree that it’s much easier to carry 200 ebooks than 200 paperbacks, but that’s kind of silly logic, since no one actually reads 200 books at once. Thus, no need to carry around 200 books at a time! LOL

    I like having a book in my hands so much more than a little device. I like turning pages, using book marks, highlighting important phrases, etc. Can’t do that with an ebook.

  3. Isaac Asimov wrote an essay on this very topic in his 1972 collection, The Tragedy of the Moon. Of course in those days the actual technology was a pipedream…

  4. I shall be the old lady carrying a paperback while all around me tap away at their ebooks.
    Great post :)

  5. Here, here Riayn – you say it how it is!!!!

    This post is stirring something in my memory…………………about, wait – oh I know……………
    book. burning.!!! Is this today’s cyberspace answer to that????

    You hang on to your originals luv, nothing better than scanning shelves :)

  6. One look at my overflowing book-shelves is no doubt proof enough that I love my books (hardcover or paperback) but I also have a PDA that I couldn’t live without.

    The thing is, that as much as I love real books (I actually used to work in a book store – and will always have a huge collection of them – many of which I read over and over again) nowadays it’s an extra special treat for me if I happen to buy a new one (though my relatives know they will always make a good gift) with my PDA I can find free online stories to download and then I can convert them so I can read them on my PDA – yes I know I read fanfic :-) – but there’s a whole slew of places where you can get novels etc for free and in between those special times when I can afford to buy a new book – I’ll read many of those.

    Oh and it’s a whole new world for graphic artists to design ebook covers etc :-)

  7. Naomi – Ebooks kinda look uncomfortable to read and hold for long periods of time.

    Lelak – Asimov was simply a man before his time. His predictions have been pretty close to the mark.

    Lisamm – I don’t know who would want to carry around 200 books either, but I guess if you were travelling overseas, you might need a fair few books to keep you entertained.

    Jayne – I will be joining you! :)

    Boneblower – I don’t know if cyberspace wants the total destruction of books, but I think they would like to see it move more towards the digital medium than it is now.

    Vanessa – I haven’t reached the stage of downloading my fanfic, but only because I don’t have a PDA. I guess having an ebook would be good for books you want to read but not necessarily own.

  8. Nope… I’m sorry, my lovelies, but I love books for where they take me and the thoughts I think while reading them, not how they look or smell. Bring on the new technology! Besides, wasn’t the ancestor of the book a clay tablet? Isn’t it just a great circle of life? :)

  9. I am in heavan in a book shop. :)

  10. I do like to curl up and read on the couch, in bed, in the bath, and the ebook isn´t particularly practical for those things (specially the bath!). But, living in a place where its really hard to buy books in English, the idea of being able to download books onto a handheld is pretty attractive. Plus it would be great for travel. I´m always worried I haven´t packed enough books for a holiday. I just checked out the Iliad though and its $899!!! There´s no way I could come at spending that much on one. You´d be much better off getting a PDA and using all the other stuff it has too.

  11. Naomi – You can have an ebook and I will take all your paperback books :)

    Casdok – Me too. There is nothing nicer than having the time to wander through a bookstore.

    Guera – Ebooks are definitely not cheap, but maybe if there is a greater demand for them, the price would come down. I can definitely see the advantages of them living in an non-English speaking country.

  12. tiggymooshoo

    I agree with you 100% although, my husband is an avid lover of the e – book because he commutes 2hours each way, I love a good sit down and read.

  13. Yep PDA is the way to go – I got mine off ebay for about $30 if memory serves – it’s nothing flash just an old Palm Vx but it does the trick – not only can I read my stories it has the other usual bells as whistles like address books and notes and games etc etc.(lol not that I ever use them – I have my eReader on there and that’s all I do)

    And there’s also the point that some authors have trialled only releasing new novels online (Stephen King I think is one) so who knows what the future may bring as to how authors will go about publishing their book(s)

  14. My Christmas present to you ;-) I think you might enjoy this! Not only can you get stuff you want but you can enjoy swapping your favourites with others too. Like a library without leaving home or second hand book shopping without the price tag!


  15. Ebooks just aren’t the same – hearing someone else read it for you, just takes away some of the imagination from the story. I love pronouncing names a certain way, accents a certain way, gestures a certain way – but if someone else is reading the characters for you, it just doesn’t WORK.

    Plus I love everything about books: the sights, the smells, EVERYTHING. :)

  16. Sam – Thanks so much for the link. For some reason the page isn’t loading, so I will try to look at it again later.

    Alynabear – Ebooks are not the same as books on tape or audio books. Ebooks are like little handheld computers onto which books in the digital form can be uploaded onto. I must admit I am not a huge fan of the audio book either. I would much rather read a book then have it read to me.