As a “voracious” reader with a background working in bookstores and libraries, I often get the question “So, what do you think about ebooks?” When I say that I love them, I get mixed reactions. Sometimes relief and justification for their own feelings (do people think that you cannot love books and technology at the same time?) or disappointment (You? But don’t you love the smell and the feel?) Do people expect librarians to be complete Luddites? If you attend a professional library or archives conference, you will quickly see that the great majority of these career professionals embrace technology and actively care about the future (and the history) of the book.
I got a Kindle last year for my birthday. They have been around for years, and it wasn’t that I was holding out or anything, just hadn’t picked one up yet. Maybe it was the dip in pricing and the WiFi capabilities of the new Kindle 3. Maybe it was Amazon’s aggressive marketing. Whatever it was, I think it changed my life for the better. Over the last few years, I have focused on simplicity and unattachment, and I think I surprised a lot of my family and friends when I gave away over 400 books in the last 2 years – which happened even before the Kindle. The literal weight of these books was just too much for me and for my bookshelves. I knew there were some that I would never read and I didn’t even know why I was holding on to them. And I can tell you that I don’t even miss them, and I regained some space in my house (and my mind!)
I realized that it was the information INSIDE that I was trying to hold on to… maybe in some way I thought that by owning the books, I would possess the information inside? by osmosis of some sort? Not sure.
Sure, I love the smell of (some) books. I love going to a library and seeing the spines and thinking of all of the knowledge and wisdom inside… but in my mind, there is a place for both the physical book AND the ebook. I was able to make a pretty clear distinction: novels, non-fiction, essays – KINDLE. Graphic novels don’t translate to the screen that well (well, the Kindle, that is… I realize that with the tablet computers, there might be a way to do this right now) and there seem to be some acquisition librarians at my my county library who like graphic novels as much as I do. I do prefer physical cookbooks as well. Again, tablet computers may take this realm pretty soon, but in the meantime, I will continue to use, peruse, and love my cookbook collection. (And do I even have to address knitting and other craft books? I do use the Kindle for some PDF patterns, but my knitting book collection did not undergo the same “weeding” that the other books in the collection did!)
On GoodReads, you can see what I am reading – on how I am reading. When I buy and read a Kindle book, I give it a Kindle tag. I do the same for audiobooks. The distinction is really only for me and my memory bank, but it is an interesting study in modern reading habits, as I see others using these same kinds of tags.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this ~ people seem to have a lot of opinions on this topic!