I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about e-books. I don’t. But a friend recently asked me if I would ever buy an e-reader. My first instinct was to say no. I consider myself a bit of a purist who prefers the look and feel of printed pages. But my friend’s question made me wonder if there were other reasons, too. Here’s what I came up with.
I want to lend (and borrow) books
I’m not sure how it works with e-readers. Can you lend e-books to your friends like you can with hard copies? From the (very) superficial research I did, I think e-books can be loaned for a limited period. The process for lending sounded like a bit of a hassle, too. It seems much easier to hand over a physical book to your friend when he/she is over for a drink. Also, I wouldn’t want to limit the time my friend has to read the book. Then again, if your friends are really terrible at returning things, the e-book option could be a good one for you.
I like visiting bookstores
It’s interesting how bookstores have different atmospheres or personalities. I often enter bookstores just to browse and soak in that atmosphere. I like to look at covers and see which artwork or title draws me in to read the cover copy. I suppose there’s an option to browse an e-book store. But I wonder if I’d click the covers of the same books I’d pull off the shelves.
A house with empty bookshelves isn’t a home
Besides enjoying the act of reading books, I like looking at them, too. I grew up in a house filled with books. I think if I lived in a place that didn’t have a few full bookshelves, it wouldn’t feel like home. Plus, I do enjoy it when people come over and browse through my bookshelves. They point out books they’ve always wanted to read or ones that they already have. I’ve learned a lot about my friends by getting into discussions about books.
I want to write in the margins
I don’t do it all the time, but sometimes I like to write in my books. I’ll highlight sections of interest, point out questions I have or note themes that arise. Sometimes I will even draw little diagrams, getting a sense of the scene or idea being described. With e-books, I won’t be able to generate the same top-quality illustrations that I can with a pen or pencil.
I’m slow to adopt new technology
I came to terms with this a while ago. I’m just not the type of person who gets excited about new technology. So it’s quite possible that this reason is the biggest reason I have yet to read a single e-book. I didn’t get an iPod until last year, and I still prefer to listen to CDs at home. I was still shooting with film when everyone was getting bored of the first and second wave of digital cameras. And I was one of the last of my friends to get a cell phone. So if e-books become the main way to read books, I’m sure I will board the ship…eventually. But until it gets to that point, I’ll still be at the neighbourhood bookstore, pulling books off the shelves and turning the pages.