What do you miss about printed books?

I came across an article the other day that made the bold statement that eReaders make reading people harder.

The title caught me eye because I couldn’t fathom at that moment what they meant by “reading people harder”.

The sub-title of the article explained it all:

“If you need another reason to worry about the death of print, think of the access to strangers’ souls we’ll lose when e-readers take over”

And it hit me that the writer was, oh, so right.

eReader features I love

Yes, an eReader allows me to walk around with my entire library without taking up the space of a paperback. It allows me to browse “like” or “similar” titles and read in under a minute depending on where I am and what kind of eReader I have. And it allows me to switch between books without having to either lug a dozen along with me everywhere I go, or make the walk to the bookshelf (or library stack) when I need to look something up.

eReaders are fast moving towards replacing print media in other areas too – the nook™ already works with most library services, and Amazon.com announced earlier this year the intention to offer library lending via the Kindle (though I haven’t heard anything more about that feature since the press release – how it works, where it works and when it is to start working – to be specific).

What I’ll miss about printed books

As a dedicated reader, I have always had a thing for brand new books – the smell, the feel … it was a whole experience for me. It started when I picked up the book the first time, stuffing my nose in the middle and taking a deep breath, to sitting in a corner, balancing the book on my knees and paging through as I read carefully so as not to scar the pages in anyway … periodically taking deep breaths so I can get the smell of the book in my nostrils again.

I took great pleasure in replacing my favourite paperback versions with hardcover versions when I could afford to and then showing them off on a bookshelf in my home.

And the idea of a home with a room filled ceiling to floor with books on all four walls has been a dream of mine from the day my mother pointed me to our bookshelf at home and ordered me to occupy myself.

I had never even considering the additional enjoyment of being able to ‘read’ people based on what book they were reading until now. However, I realize that I used to enjoy ‘reading’ people this way too. It’s how I traditionally would get suggestions for reading material too. I’d see someone I knew (or didn’t) reading a particular book and ask them what it was about the book they liked and get pointers and/or suggestions for myself. It was a community feeling – the kind of feeling you get now when you join such websites as Free-eBooks.net or GoodReads.com; your ‘friends’ suggest and review books and based on that you are able to pick your next read or reads.

But – just like holding and sniffing a brand new book – it just isn’t the same for me.

Personally – I hope that printed books stick around for a while – just so that I can occasionally enjoy some of those experiences that endeared me in the first place.

What about you? What will you miss about printed books? What won’t you miss?

  • S Cook

    As a struggling publisher – I guess the most important thing I’ll miss is the income from sales, although postage costs are a real minus point. Somehow our paperbacks were easier to market. I know once purchased books get passed around – but there is a limit. It seems there are too many places you can get free eBooks – but you end up downloading too many poor quality or archaic out of copyright books which are not ass compelling to read, rather than looking for new good ones. I’m getting annoyed with poorly converted books with page numbers in the middle of sentences, the annoying conversion of punctuation such as ‘-’ with no space between words (which Kindle even have in an advert I’ve seen!) which totally changes the intended pause. I haven’t found an economic way to sell my converted Greek-o-File books other than through my website which is sadly not found by many, but Amazon have such draconian terms for publishers.

    SC