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.