The other day, my English teacher showed our class a few really cool innovations. Among these innovations was a digital library in a subway station in Bucharest, Romania. Basically, the pictures of books up on the station’s walls have codes so you can download the book onto your iPhone. People then take the book on their iPhone and read it on the subway. I think this is an awesome idea. People have something to do while they wait for the subway to come and take them to their destination.
But it also makes me worried.
What if all libraries become digital? It seems more practical. Less ink, less paper, and more trees saved. No more lugging heavy books around. Many schools are already replacing textbooks with iPads. I am starting to see more and more people with e-books. I have noticed library hours becoming fewer and fewer and their crowds smaller over the years. Like it or not, the world is changing and leaving good, old-fashioned paper books behind.
Many people welcome this change. Others just don’t care. But if you’re like me, then you are praying real books will stay around until after you die. I know many people that would rather have their school textbooks on an iPad than drag their heavy weight from class to class all day. Personally, I don’t mind carrying the extra ten pounds. I like the feeling of holding a real book in my hand, where the words can’t move or become larger or smaller. I like flipping through the dry pages. To me, it feels wrong to slide my finger across a small, polished surface to turn the page. This technology that lets me hold a thousand page book in the palm of my hand feels cold to the touch and impersonal. If I dislike the book or if it had a terrible ending, I can’t even throw the book in frustration, otherwise my expensive device will shatter. If something happens to my device or my battery dies, then I would not even be able to read it.Holding a real book is different. A good, broken in book that has been read millions of times feels well-loved and homey. I can curl up the couch with it and I can forget my worries and relax. It feels good, like talking to an old friend. Real books are much more reliable than e-books. You can hold them, touch them, and feel their weight. In my opinion, nothing beats having real books.