There comes a day when we all make transitions in our lives and some are easy. For example, the pivotal passage from drinking Keystone in our college years to drinking the likes of such über sophisticated microbrews. Some transitions prove to be more difficult, like the metamorphosis from single life (sports car) to married life (truck + sports car) and finally family life (the dreaded minivan). Many transitions today have propelled us in to a spiraling world of technology, take dial up, then DSL, and currently wireless Internet.
Personally, I thrive on change and being different. I enjoy traveling by myself—gasp! One of my favorite pastimes involves wrapping a worm around a lure. I love sitting on my porch sipping whiskey. I savor my single life. Last, I don’t have cable or Internet at my house. People say, with an absolute look of either horror or astonishment, “What do you do then?” I reply, “I read A LOT.” So when my friend suggested I start using my iPad to read books I looked at him with apparent repugnance and loudly guffawed. How can you take something so traditional and sacred and suffocate it with technology and pragmatism? Well, there comes a day when we all break down and succumb to convenience and with much ado I transitioned in to the world of e-books.
It is hard to place a dollar amount on such novelistic nostalgia. Who can really say how much a tattered cover and water stained book is worth? Or the dusty old book that proudly claims, “I am a living part of history.” Not to mention the satisfaction of turning a page or the overwhelming gratification and despondency that comes with the memory of finishing a good book. Few purchases require the meticulous mewing over as that of selecting a book for a friend or relative. The decisions behind said book say so much more than the physical gift itself. Similarly, in college many of us spent hours writing notes in the margins or highlighting our textbooks so that by the time the semester ended our textbook resembled a piece of living artwork.
Devices like the iPad, Nook, Kindle and other tablets have made the e-book possible. In a world of convenience these devices offer it all. The capability to read a book, listen to music, update your status on Facebook, pin to Pinterest, type an article, play Angry Birds and text and/or email your friends is now possible from one device. Magazines are now enjoyed in hi-def clarity and come alive with images that portray keen likeness to the real thing. The ability to take notes and highlight PDF documents and textbooks is a reality that doesn’t involve a fifty-pound backpack to go along with it.
I think many people are stuck in the state of limbo regarding this transition. I know I myself am not willing to make the jump to strictly e-books. Taking notes, bookmarking the tops of pages, highlighting, and doodling turns a common book in to a personal investment. Books, for nerds like me, are the best kinds of gifts because they make a statement about the relationship with that person. One of my friends recently picked out a cliché gaudy and salacious romance novel for me as a gag gift (romance novels are one of my guilty pleasures). Yet another gave me a book that featured grammatical errors on signs across the United States, knowing that I am a connoisseur of grammar indecencies (I say this knowing that there is probably one or more somewhere in this article – commas are my Achilles heel).
For me, reading on my iPad offers many luxuries like the ability to change the font type, size, and color, read without the nuisance of a 100 watt bulb in my bedside lamp, and only having to use one hand to turn the page of a book (this frees up my other hand to eat an Adolfo’s burrito). The privacy of reading on a tablet is also for lack of a better word, awesome. I no longer am required to sit in silent shame due to tacky romance covers; I now read my romance novels proudly knowing that only those privy to my reading choices are aware of my guilty indulgence.
Many people especially those of the younger generation will not understand why this transition has become so tumultuous for me and the many others who view their book shelves as a badge of intellectualism. In the proverbial battleground of paper books versus e-books, I am content knowing that paper books will never reign dominant again, but neither will e-books ever be completely victorious.