As some of you may or may not know, I host the Chunkster Challenge. I took over this challenge from Dana who ran it for several years and always had the same rules (which I adopted when I started hosting it last year). One of the rules is NO E-BOOKS. There is a rationale for this which you can read here on the Chunkster blog.
For the first time in the many years this challenge has been running, people are complaining loudly about the rule against e-books being counted for the challenge. It has made me realize that indeed, readers are embracing their e-readers and wanting to read digitally. And that makes my heart ache just a bit.
I have heard all the reasons why people want to carry around their little, lightweight readers filled to the brim with digital literature:
- I can’t hold a traditional book easily
- It lets me adjust the type large enough for me to read more easily
- It is more convenient then lugging around a book (or books)
- I can have thousands of books available at the push of a button
- It takes up less space in my house/purse/car/office
- I don’t have to go to the store to buy a book (or the library to borrow) because I can quickly go on line and download a book
I’m sure I’m missing some more reasons…but what strikes me is this: every single reason seems to revolve around convenience (except for the rare person with a disability who finds they need a device from which to read – and that I totally understand).
I wrote a piece not long ago (which guest-posted to author Ru Freeman’s site) . The article examined how fast the world spins these days, how we’re always “plugged” in to our digital media, how we don’t often take the time to slow down. Technology races ahead, our computers quickly become outdated, we have to constantly upgrade our televisions, we “follow” hundreds of people on twitter, blogs and facebook. Despite the convenience of technology, many people feel overwhelmed and isolated. There is rarely time to just slow down and take a breath and enjoy something that takes time.
Perhaps this is why I have my heels dug in when it comes to e-books. There is something about sitting with a traditional book in one’s hand, curled beneath a quilt perhaps, or snuggled under the covers at night. There is no back-light – just words on a page. There is the feel of a book, the smell of its pages, the weight of its words which sit heavily in one’s hands. No digital medium can replicate the feel, smell, and bliss of a traditional book…a book with actual pages. I hate the coldness of the digital book. It seems to lack life to me. When I sit down with a traditional book in my hands, the world fades away and I am transported inside the book … not just because of the story, but because of the overall experience. No one will convince me that reading digitally can replicate that exact feeling.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not dismissing readers who love their digital readers. I think it is great that people are reading. I’m not saying that e-books do not have their place in our world. But, I am scared that the pleasure of a traditional book is getting lost in this fast, technological world we live in. Can you imagine a world without a library filled with actual books? Or a used bookstore with its musty pages and dusty air? Who really only wants to shop online for their books? Wouldn’t you miss strolling through a bookstore, browsing the books, flipping the pages? I know I would.
Perhaps I am being stubborn when I refuse to change the rules of my challenge…but part of the Chunkster Challenge is the celebration of TRADITIONAL books. Thick, juicy, wonderful, weighty traditional books. Perhaps the real challenge for many people will be to set aside the convenience of their e-reader and pick up an actual book and unplug. I hope that when they do, they will rediscover the joy of reading all over again.
**EDITED on January 8th to add this link to Love, Laughter, and A Touch of Insanity’s post about why SHE prefers the real thing to an electronic replication. She expresses things much better than I did!