I like electronic readers. They are handy and lightweight and they fit easily into a pocket. I can carry one anywhere and load literally hundreds of books onto it. E-readers are slimline and sensible.
But – there’s always a “but” with that kind of optimistic opening statement, isn’t there? – despite their bulk, I still prefer reading real books. Perhaps some part of me is put off by the way in which electronic text sits flat behind a screen, perhaps it’s the way that the obviously monochrome quality of the delivery leaves me feeling disengaged and somewhat unconvinced, perhaps it’s that real books all feel different – different weights, different sizes, fonts, covers, page thicknesses… Reading a book, I can almost feel it speaking to me, in a way that I find missing with electronic media. Is it that electronic book files are almost too alike, or self-consciously clever? I’m not sure.
In any case, my house is now overflowing with books – and I speak as one who keeps her sentimental attachment to them well under control. Living in a small flat, with a husband who is loath to part with his volumes and a daughter whom I am trying to encourage back into a reading habit, I cannot afford to do otherwise.
I’ve also been helping my mother to sort and deliver many of her books to the local second-hand stores, where they are gratefully received. Mum adores books and sees each of her favourites – and there are many – almost as a personal friend, an intimate acquaintance who has been with her on the journey as she has researched and written a dozen books. While she has done a great deal of her research online, still, she would be appalled if I suggested to her that all the material benefits of real books could be replicated by reading electronically. Indeed, she would scoff, demonstrate my folly, and then perhaps suffer a panic attack at the very notion. So we are, and will be, reading real books for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for listening.