Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Good Book Should Smell

"Smell is the most powerful trigger to the memory there is. A certain flower, or a-a whiff of smoke can bring up experiences long forgotten. Books smell musty and-and-and rich. The knowledge gained from a computer is a - it, uh, it has no-no texture, no-no context. It’s-it’s there and then it’s gone. If it’s to last, then-then the getting of knowledge should be, uh, tangible, it should be, um, smelly." - Rupert Giles

I've always been a big reader, and right now, even though I'm in the midst of my Recommended Reading Challenge which is slowing down, that hasn't changed. What has changed lately is that, instead of physical copies of the books people are recommending, I've been reading e-books on my computer.  In fact, 14 out of the 18 books I've read since I started the challenge have been e-books, but I want to make something perfectly clear about this right now:

I hate e-books.

I'm only reading them because I'm broke and don't feel like spending money on books that I might like. So unless they've been able to lend me the book, I've been all about the e-books. And I hate every minute of it.

An actual book in my hands feels so much better than staring at a screen. It's like the quote above says. Books have a smell. You all know what I'm talking about, especially an older book, the pages starting to get yellow... it smells musty and rich. It smells like knowledge. You don't get that with an e-book unless you've been up to some funky things with your reading device.

It's more than just smell, though. It's touch. On an e-reader. You press a button over and over again and the page scrolls down repeatedly, endlessly. What you physically feel doesn't change. With an actual book, you have the heft of it in your hand. You feel how much it weighs. As you turn page after page... a very physical act that pulls you along, drawing you in... you can slowly but surely feel the weight of the book change from "unread" to "read" as you go along. You can stop, look at the chunk of book you've read, and feel like you've made progress. With an e-reader, all you have is a percentage bar... and if you have anything like the mental ridiculousness I have, you can occasionally become more interested in how fast that percentage bar is moving than you are in the book, especially if the book sucks.

One last thing about touch? You can totally clobber someone over the head with a book without worrying about breaking it...

Now, I know the counter-arguments. E-books take up no space at all, you don't need bookshelves everywhere. They don't get damaged the way actual books to. E-books can be cheaper. My response? I don't care. Save your iPad for Star Wars Angry Birds and pick up a book and read it the old-fashioned way. You'll enjoy it, I promise.

And if you don't... well, you got bigger problems than anything I can help you with!


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