Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mysterious Musings: The Joy of the Printed Word aka Confessions of a Kindle Reader

I picked up an old Aunt Dimity mystery the other day. I opened up the book and took a deep whiff: it's the smell of old books that make me happy. The feel of the paper between my fingers - the idea that I'm rubbing dried and pressed wood pulp. I flipped back and forth as I reacquainted myself with my favorite parts...found easily due to the worn spine of the book. I sighed quite happily as I once again found myself traveling from Boston to England and rediscovered my love of the ghost we all wish would haunt us...

And yet, not an hour before I downloaded from Amazon new books for my Kindle DX.

I love my Kindle. I love having a library of 50-odd books at my fingertips that ways less than a pound. I love flipping through the "pages" and tracking my process with the meter at the bottom (and hate that part, too as I'm only 8% into the book that I must read for book club...which meets on Saturday).

However, it lacks the smell...that touch...that ability that with those two important pieces of tactile experiences it cannot draw me back into happy feelings. My discovery of Aunt Dimity came as a result of a visit to a used bookstore where a fellow customer pressed it into my hands with a "you must read this" sense of urgency. I still recall the experience of inhaling that book while sitting in the Starbucks down from the bookstore...and I go back to that "happy happy joy joy" time just be touching and smelling the pages.

MMmmmmm...old book smell...bookstore smell...why can't they bottle that?

I love my Kindle DX and while I can most certainly bookmark my favorite places, there's nothing more joyous than having an old favorite flop open to a beloved passage. Kindle's don't have book spines: no spines to break or bend to favorite sections. While Kindles allow for note-taking, it's not the same as discovering long-forgotten thoughts in the margins of old books. I treasure the comments in a cookbook recently gifted to me...just small thoughts like "a favorite" or "ick". I'm not writing in some of my cookbooks as a result.

I don't see my Kindle ever replacing my love of paper books. I'll always treasure my old favorites in paper or hardback. Certain authors, such as Steve Hockensmith or Tasha Alexander, will always be purchased in hardback.


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