I have a confession to make.
As someone who is vocal about my opposition to literary snobbery—making fun of adult YA readers, claiming only certain genres are “literary”, etc—I must be honest. I am guilty of the same sort of pretentious douch-baggery that I so often criticize.
For the longest time, I was incredibly snooty in my personal hang-ups with e-readers, kindles, nooks, etc.
Growing up in the early 2000s, we readers were told religiously that —with the advent of e-readers—brick and mortar bookstores would become a forgotten relic of the past. In the future, nobody would want to read anymore and, those that did, would be relegated to reading off a soulless tablet for the rest of their natural life.
As someone who adores the sensation of walking into a bookstore—the sights, the smells, the promise of new worlds to explore—this grim prophecy disconcerted me to no end.
To me, reading isn’t merely a mental exercise, it’s a visceral one. I love the sound pages make when you turn them. I love the vaguely vanilla fragrance that only strengthens as the book ages. I love the resolute clomp when a hardback is closed.
From my perspective, an electronic reader can not capture these feelings.
However, these days I feel significantly less threatened by them. Bookstores, although perhaps not as plentiful as they were in the olden days, are still standing in spite of everything. Sure, Amazon is doing its level best to make them obsolete, but it just goes to show the desire for a physical sanctuary of books still exists.
With this in mind, I did the unthinkable: I actually bought a Kindle.
And….I love it.
Yes, I still love physical books and, no, I will not stop purchasing them.
Nonetheless, the Kindle Paperwhite (not a sponsor) was money well spent.
I never realized how damn convenient it is to carry around a tiny little square as opposed to a massive brick that adds an additional 5lbs to your purse. Nor did I ever conceive how much more enjoyable it is to read in the bath with a waterproof Kindle than a physical book. I dropped that bastard straight in the drink the first time I used it and it came out smelling like a rose. Drop a normal book in the bath and see what happens.
Also, it has to be said, buying books on Kindle is much cheaper than buying a physical copy. If ever I’m inclined to test out a writer, I usually buy the Kindle version of their work first so I can be sure I like them. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t want to shell out $15 for a book that sucks.
Not to mention, as much as I love the aesthetic of a full bookshelf, physical books take up space that I’m slowly but surely running out of.
Yes, I could just sell some of them back, or donate to them to the library, but who has that kind of time? It’s much easier to have them all in compact form where they are accessible and not collecting dust on my end table.
The Kindle has made traveling a blast as well.
No longer do I have to add pound after pound to my suitcase whenever I leave town. I can just carry all my books with me in a device that fits in my purse.
And, more important, I discovered that the Kindle has cured me of my motion sickness. One of the things I have always hated the most about road trips is I couldn’t read in the car without getting horribly nauseous. Front seat, backseat, it’s made little difference. But by some miracle of science, I’m able to read for hours on end with a Kindle without even a hint of sickness.
I swear this isn’t an ad, I’m just really excited about this…as is my shoulder for not having to bear the weight of a 10lb monster.
And so, dear readers, I’m sorry that I discriminated against you. I’m sorry I blamed you for the impending demise of the bookstore. I’m sorry I didn’t consider you “real readers.” I now realize that was incredibly dumb and elitist.
In a world that is constantly dishing out new flashy distractions, we should just be grateful that anyone chooses to spend their time reading at all.
It doesn’t matter if you use your phone, tablet, Kindle, or a physical book, you are a reader and you are helping the human race be slightly less stupid.