I admit, I haven’t jumped on the Kindle or other electronic book bandwagon. There is just something about holding a physical book, turning the pages, dog-earring the corners, and underlining the passages and quotes that speak to me that makes me extremely wary about the ability of a flat screen to be in any way a satisfying reading experience. I understand the whole concept of reduced storage space. Hell, my bookcase is ridiculously crowded, and I have several extremely large boxes of books that I just keep in my storage unit because I can’t part with my precious books.
There is something just so romantic about libraries, as well. Especially the thought that one is filled with ancient knowledge, ink and parchment, and all sorts of myths and legends from the days of yore. I don’t think there is anything sexier than the gift of a favorite first edition.
But I understand that the trajectory of modern society is making the printing press antiquated technology. Encyclopedia Britannica has announced that it will no longer make print editions, and instead focus on its digital edition. I remember as a child, whenever I had a question about the world, my parents would inevitably point me in the direction of our encyclopedia set for the answers. I guess I will just point my children to look up the answers online (though at the rate we are going, I am pretty sure Ray Kurzweil is correct in his projections that our neurons will be hooked up to the internet, and we can just download the answers directly by thinking it.)
A good friend recently told me a story about how he was watching a mother and daughter interact at the Sydney airport. The mother was sitting at the gate waiting for her flight, reading a book. The daughter, who was probably about three or so, stood in front of her mother, watching her reading the book. The child looked at the book, and then looked at her mom. And then she waved her hand across the paper, trying to flip the page as if it were a Kindle. The child did not understand the concept of reading from a physical paper book. This story horrified me. I must be old if I am already to the days when I can say, “back when I was a kid, we read from paper.”
Now, if we were able to underline in Kindle, and then have all my passages automatically organized, I might be tempted…. oh wait, dammit. They already thought of that too.
I guess I have no excuse. I’m not a purist after all. But how are you supposed to give a first edition as a gift on Kindle though?