Every night we debate why we love books. We are asked so many times about the market place for “physical books” right now, the rise of e-readers, and Amazon. And every night, we remind ourselves why we love books so much, and why we passionately believe in their long term viability. Here are 5 reasons, among millions, why I love physical books…
5. No e-distractions.
Reading on a tablet is like trying to read on a crowded subway with street performers doing 10-second handstands while the conductor incoherently shouts about upcoming train delays and the brakes screech and a creepy way-too-close guy sits next to you asking, “WHAT ARE YOU READING?” There are too many distractions. Email. Internet. A sudden and insatiable urge to Wikipedia where Gary Busey was born.
When I read the final page of the Great Gatsby, I don’t want another email ding reminding me that Cottage Inn Pizza has a Superbowl discount (although we do have an unhealthy addiction to Cottage Inn). When I read, I want to escape from the real word. I don’t want to be reminded about the latest flash mob sale, I don’t want to be reminded of work obligations, I don’t want to Wikipedia Gary Busey. I want a soft light, a comfortable chair, and a book — and nothing else.
4. Gift Giving.
One of my favorite presents was an unexpected gift given to me when I graduated college. It was from an acquaintance and the book was, “The Power of One.” Inside it was an inscription, a personal message of well-wishes. That had never really happened to me before. I had gotten books, but not meaningful books, with meaningful inscriptions. Since that day, I’ve tried to reciprocate and give books I believe my friends and family will love. If they have a new baby, I will give them, “Go The F*ck To Sleep” with a little inscription that says, “Good luck!” You can’t get a similar reaction with a digital download gift certificate.
3. More memorable.
Maybe it’s got to do with that distraction thing. Maybe there’s something about touching the printed words. Maybe this is just a flawed perspective. For whatever reason, I remember better reading physical books as opposed to anything on any screen. It might sound crazy, but when I read on screens, words blend together into an unrecognizable mush. I’m reading screens all day. I’m reading sports and NPR blogs all night. So when I read anything online that takes more than two seconds to finish, my eyes are jumping around the screen, searching for more, unable to concentrate, like self-inflicted ADD. However, when I read a physical book, everything slows down. My mind slows, my eyes stop bouncing around, the characters seem more vivid, the settings seem more intriguing, and the endings seem more memorable. I don’t know why this is, but it just is.
I love bookshelves. Specifically, I love other people’s bookshelves. Bookshelves are like an old-school version of a Facebook profile. When you walk into someone’s home, you can steal a quick glance at their bookshelf, you can see what they read, and consequently, you can learn about them in strange ways otherwise not discussed over cocktails or small talk dinner conversations. You can learn a lot about a person whether they shelf A People’s History of the United States or Cookin’ With Coolio. Or both.
1. Winding down the day.
A book to me is part of a nightly unwinding process: Glass of wine, check. Bed or comfortable chair, check. A book that allows me to unwind and escape, check. When I read a book, it feels like leaving everything else behind… the same way multiple glasses of wine can feel. Reading a physical book feels like going on a mini-vacation. It’s like turning off the phone, closing the laptop, and checking out for the day. You wake up sometime around 3am and see that the lamp is still on, the cats are asleep, and Love And Other Obstacles is resting on your chest, and you turn off the lamp, and sleep soundly the rest of the night. You just can’t get that wonderful, satisfying feeling when you close out of your e-book, check 15 work emails on your tablet, then press a power button.
These are just a few reasons why I love physical books, among so many. What are some of your reasons? I’d love to hear from you.