The physical paper book appreciation thread

I posted a bit in Annamika’sthread, but didn’t want to hijack it so am starting a new one here.

I want to hear from Dopers who have shied away from the e-reader craze and steadfastly held on to their paper book libraries. I can’t argue that Kindles/Nooks are popular, but for the life of me I can’t understand why, the comments in the previous thread notwithstanding.

My love for my physical book collection is based on several things.

First, most of my books are almost exclusively non-fiction. Mostly history, with some math, physics and biology texts thrown in. While I haven’t studied the matter in depth, I know there are some titles in my library that are not available in e-book format. I understand that one can scan a physical book into an e-book format, but doing so seems more trouble than it’s worth.

Second, I have a somewhat unique system of organization that’s loosely based on the Dewey Decimal System. For instance, I have half a shelf of books on Scottish history. Included in with those are several books on Scottish folk tales, Scottish songs, and several contemporary travel guides to Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow. I have a couple of Scottish cookbooks on the same shelf. My copy of Ian McEwan’s Atonement sits on the shelf of WWII history - British. I have a habit of cross-referencing books; as I’m reading one I’ll stop, pick up another, flip through it looking for some bit of related information, and then return to my original book. sometimes this process involves half a dozen different titles. I can’t imagine being able to even begin to organize my books on a Kindle. A simple title and author doesn’t give me enough information to go on. I need to be able to hold the book, casually flip through it and see if what I’m looking for is possibly contained inside.

Third reason for liking a physical book. I don’t travel much, but I spend a lot of time on campus where I have some down time between classes. Having a book to read is nice, but not required. If I did have a book in my bag, I would read it and only it. I have no use for carrying several/dozens/hundreds of titles in my pocket. If I’m going to be reading several books at once, it will be at home. If I need to reference something, I can ask Google, which is always available on my phone. The few times that I have traveled and anticipated long spells in a motel with nothing but a TV for company, I’ve brought along an appropriately lengthy book to keep me company. Again, I don’t need more than one, chances are I won’t have time to read it. On the few times I’ve been traveling and have read whatever I’ve brought, I’ve gone and found myself a local used bookstore. There are few things in this life as pleasurable as slowly wandering through a used bookstore, forgetting for an hour or so the outside world, just waiting to see what gems catch your eye. Certain bookstores like Powell’s bring this experience to a whole new level of pleasure.

Fourth, my book collection is vast: +/- 3500 books at last count. I have bookshelves in every room of my house, they are in and of themselves our “style” of decorating our house. I have placed rope lights one the very top, which casts a warm glow on the ceiling and directs it back down, softly illuminating the whole room. I don’t know jack about feng shui and related concepts, but I know that I feel more at home surrounded by books than bare walls, art prints or (god forbid) knick-knacs.

I love the smell of a book. I love holding a book in my hands, flipping the pages, slowly digesting the story. I love the satisfied feeling of finishing a book, placing it back on the shelf and contemplating the next one. I have no desire to immediately purchase all the works from newly discovered author or the next title in a series I’m reading. Such purchases can wait until my next trip to the bookstore or added to ABEbooks list. Like lovemaking, there is something to be said for anticipation.

My local college library has spent the last school year downsizing their print collection by almost 15,000 titles. While many of these are outdated and one can certainly understand their removal, the librarian told me they are considering purging more, which I find sad. There are students at school who will complete their degree without ever opening a physical encyclopedia. There are people who submit research papers who rely exclusively on EBSCOhost, Google Scholar and the like. I just don’t get it.

Kindles obviously have their place for some, and I am happy that for some using a Kindle has actually increased their book consumption. But even after reading two pages of fawning praise, I still don’t get their appeal over a traditional book. I’ve used Kindles; both the first generation with the grey screen and the newer Fire. Afterwards I was more determined than ever to hold on to my paper books.

I’m curious to hear from others who have steadfastly stood against the e-reader tide.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

I hate reading on a screen.

I love physical books. I do have an e-reader, and it’s been helpful when I’ve been sitting in waiting rooms or traveling. But the more I use the Kindle, the less I like it, and the more I love physical books. I love the look and feel of a book. I love the texture of paper, and the fonts, the paper color, the ink color, the binding. Like you, I have over 3,000 volumes, and I love seeing them in shelves around the rooms, reminding me of their presence. I have maybe 200 Kindle titles, but they don’t attract and allure the way a physical book does, and I am less likely to read them.

Books don’t need to be plugged in to recharge the battery. They will survive changes in technology.

I also love the bookstore experience. Browsing the shelves, the serendipitous finds, the taste of the owners in their choices of what to stock and how to display the titles. The chance conversations with other book lovers. Amazon is terrible, because it tends to show you things related to what you’ve already bought, so a sudden discovery of something wonderful out of the blue is less likely.

I also love libraries, especially ones of a somewhat Gothic appearance, with spiral staircases and the feeling of infinite possibilites and wonder. High tech modern libraries and ereaders don’t give me the same sense of possibility and wonder, which is counterintuitive, I know. The more tech does for me, the less room there is for my imagination to play, and the more dead it all seems.

Sure, a good story overcomes the limitations of its means of delivery. I even listen to auiobooks when I’m on a long drive, although the speed of speech is terribly slow compared to the speed of reading, and if the voice of the reader is not to my liking, I can’t listen to the book. Or if the book is very good, I’d rather read than listen.

I agree on superiority of paper books for maps, charts, works where graphic design matters, and for paging back torecheck, reread, or rethink something.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. Long live the book as a physical artifact!

This deserves extra consideration. Someone in the other thread made a comment about books stored on e-readers possibly being unable to be accessed in a decade. The response was to do something or other that was likely illegal, in hopes of having a format that could be read in 2022. Remember Betamax or, hell, even VHS? Albums sold on cassette tapes? what about these?. Technology changes, books are immune to such fluctuations.

The oldest books I have in my collection is a set of encyclopedias from 1873, given to me by my grandmother, who received them from her mother, and so forth up through the generations. 139 years old. Even if I had bought them at a flea market, they are a unique treasure unparallelled by any other books that I have. Can an e-reader even be compared to such treasures?

I have an Kindle Fire. It is interesting, but will not replace books for pleasure reading. I do kind of like it for my software books, which are big and bulky. But in the end, I just find paper books so much better.

Two flights a week for the last three years, I can keep reading when all electronics must be off.

I have a nook, and I love it, but it will never replace physical books.

I went to the bookstore yesterday, and spent some time just browsing. B&N’s recommendations software sucks, and it’s quicker to pick up a random book, glance at the front and back and maybe a page or two than to open up a webpage about a book.

I go both ways.

Because it’s been mentioned twice, I want to just to make the distinction between kindles and kindle fires clear, although I’m sure most people are already aware of this. The kindle fire is not an e-reader. There is very little difference between reading on a kindle fire and reading on a computer screen. Most people dislike both. The main thing that sets e-readers such as the kindle apart is the e-ink technology, which makes text on the screen look a lot like text on a printed page.

I sit all day looking into a computer screen and I don’t want to do it in my free time.

I love sniffing the pages of my books. Have been doing that since I was a kid, 30+ years ago. Still doing it now. I can’t do that on an e-reader and I. MUST. SNIFF. THE. PAGES.

I have both. If I have to read from a device, I prefer the Kindle Fire. The kindle I dislike even more than the fire.

I love the smell of books, especially used books (libraries and used book stores have this smell), but I think you might need some intervention, there. :wink:

It’s nice to flip ahead in a book and see how long a particular chapter is. My wife has a Kindle, but I don’t have much experience with it at all. It didn’t look like it had page numbers or the ability to flip ahead. Also, I have a pretty nice stack of physical books that needs to be read before I can move on to other media.

I live three blocks from my library. Why would I pay for books? And the books I already own – they feel like friends. We have stacks and stacks of books in our house. Thousands.

Also, having the kids see me look at an electronic device doesn’t feel like modeling reading. It feels like showing them that we should stare at electronic devices.

You’re making me miss my large collection of books I recently had to abandon:(

Anyhow I’m 27 so in theory I should be all up on kindles and iPads and such but I’m not, my (non smart) phone is the only device I carry around with me. I do a whole lot of my reading online now so I have nothing against digital informantion, but I’m in the same camp that loves books as physical objects. I like carrying them around and the feel of it in my hands, almost like a physical manifestation of the knowledge I am amsorbing. I suspect a lot of younger people still feel this way, even if it’s hard to explain without sounding old.

Why do you constantly read from the screen then?

There’s nothing wrong with evolution of media. Less paper used, reading devices can be charged via solar energy, ability to carry hundreds of books, easier to speedread without page turning needed, can acquire books and begin reading without moving from the comfort of your chair, etc, etc. Compared to what, the nostalgic feel of holding something in your hand? How mundane!

Justin, we call that “threadshitting.” please see the link in the OP for the thread you should have posted in.

I’m also one who just can’t get used to reading large amounts of text on a computer screen. I’m no luddite, but ebooks are just one thing I can’t get used to. Granted, if I owned a Kindle rather than used my friends’ Kindles, I might get into it over time. But there is just something I like about the physical aspect of a book. I’m one of these readers who enjoys dog-earing pages, writing in the book, underlining, circling, etc. I understand you can do some of this in ereaders, but it’s just not quite the same as physically putting pen to paper.

Also, I like the “random access” nature of books, how I can pick it up and just flip through the pages and randomly stumble on something that looks interesting. I also seem to have better recall, for whatever reason, of material I read on a printed page.

I have the same connection with writing or designing. I have a difficult time getting my ideas out on a computer screen. I have to bring pen and paper and sketch out things before I try doing it on the computer, otherwise, it’s a much longer process for me. Books are the same. For some reason, holding them and writing in them connects with me in a more direct manner than reading and notating on a screen. And it’s not like I didn’t grow up with computers, for the most part. I had computers in the house since I was 8 years old, I was ecstatic when I was able to ditch film for digital in my professional photography, I work with computers 6-8 hours a day. But when I want to kick back and read, or do a crossword puzzle, I have to do it on paper. Even the NYTimes crossword app on my iPhone just feels wrong to me.

Why is that, if you don’t mind my asking?

This sounds like where I live. My husband said that we have a library, we just don’t have the rest of the rooms in our house.

I love books, too. They remind me of going to the local library when I was a girl. It was one of my favorite places.