Monday, June 14, 2010

In Celebration of the Printed Book

Yes, I know you've all heard about Kindles, E-readers, and various electronic devices on which you can read printed material and even (amazingly) full-length novels. And maybe someday they will develop a feature where you'll be able to sign them electronically: "Love to Dear Shantal on her 6th birthday from Aunt Lucille, June 14, 2014." But do you think Shantal will cherish and keep that electronic reader on her bookcase until she grows up and goes off to college, and eventually packs all her things and moves away? Yeah, me neither.

But a book - an actual tangible printed book - is something you keep. Or you pass down to a friend. Or you donate to a school or library where it will be enjoyed again and again. Or you tuck it away for later. Or you pack in a box, and that box gets moved around, or passed down, or sometimes lost. Until somewhere, way down the road, someone opens that box and pulls out long-forgotten treasures.

Such as the ones below, that I found in a box of books I was going through to sell at a garage sale:

BAMBI, by Felix Salten, first published in 1926, translated from the German. I grew up with the Disney movie, but I've never seen the original book.

THE PEARL, by John Steinbeck. I remember reading this in high school or college, long ago. It meant a lot to me then, and I will definitely re-read it.

OLD YELLER, by Fred Gipson, the book which inspired the wonderful movie.

Sell these books in the garage sale?? Oh no. I am so excited to find these! They are old, with yellowed pages, obviously read and loved in the past. I am not sure where they came from, or who read them in the past. But you can be sure I am reading them now - all these years later!

I have nothing against electronic readers. Reading is good, period, and obviously we read things in lots of formats (including blogs like this one, on the internet.) But BOOKS.

Oh, give me an actual printed book that I can hold in my hands and carry around any day of the year.

In fact, I am opening an old one right now . . .

He came into the world in the middle of the thicket, in one of those little forest glades which seem to be entirely open, but are really screened in on all sides. There was very little room in it, scarcely enough for him and his mother.

He stood there, swaying unsteadily on his thin legs -

What experiences have you had with e-readers vs. printed books. Thoughts? Comments?

Do you have any old books that you will keep forever and ever and ever?


Laura Marcella said...

Love this post! You're right about eBooks; you can't inscribe books as gifts or even lend a digital book to someone. I prefer real, tangible books! I love the way they smell, whether new or old, and how they feel in your hands. :)

Amy Lukavics said...

AAAH I FREAKING LOVE THE PEARL!!! So, so much. And I definitely prefer real books. I love everything about them.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Those old books are so cool! I bet you wouldn't have been as excited to find old, e-readers (that probably wouldn't work) in a box. Yes, books are the best! : )

Linda Benson said...

Thanks for commenting! After our two-day garage sale in which none of our out-dated technology items sold (fax machines, printers, faxes, etc.)everyone was drawn to the books. I sold a very old copy of PENROD by Booth Tarkington (copyright 1914) to an 85 year old woman for 50 cents. She was thrilled and walked away clutching it to her chest. Yeah, maybe she could read it online, but I don't think she ever would, and somehow, it's just not the same, is it?

middle grade ninja said...

I can't imagine a world without printed books. But e-readers have their advantages. I wouldn't my copy of THE WITCHES to be electronic only, but my copy of Jim Cramer's new financial advice book? Meh.

Katrina Stonoff said...

I read Bambi as a girl, multiple times, before I was ever exposed to the Disney movie. When I finally saw the movie, I was repulsed. It was so stupid -- silly and trite compared to the real majesty of the book. I still cannot abide it.

Linda Benson said...

mgninja - You have a point.

Katrina - wow, you read BAMBI before you saw the movie? Impressed. The book seems a little dated now, but I still loved it.