Saturday, July 16, 2011

Con Seeks Pro: Electronic Books

This is something a little new for us. We hope to spark conversations about different aspects of our information world by setting up one side of an argument. I'll be taking the con side in this discussion as I am a book snob, and I welcome comments from anyone and everyone on this topic.

As I wrote, I am a book snob. This title encompasses everything from content to smell. For the sake of argument, we'll focus on the snobbery that has to do with what makes a book a book. For me, a book consists of several pages (several being anywhere between 4 and infinity), with words and, sometimes, pictures that tell a story. This story can be fictional or not, it doesn't matter. It is usually made of paper and held together by glue. Books come in many different shapes, sizes and lengths. A book has heft. You can hear the paper as you turn the page. There is a specific smell to a book, especially if the pages have begun to turn yellow. It's slightly musty and sweet. It's welcoming and relaxing. A book that is falling apart, while a sad sight, shows that it has been well loved. Also, nothing beats cracking the spine on a paper back. I am well aware that such an act is really bad for the binding, but if they are privately owned books: love it well.

Before I become too carried away in my musings, I have to admit that I do own a Nook Color from Barnes & Nobel, and I think it's a very handy device. I can search the web, check my email, and download the readings for class directly. It saves money and paper in this regard because I do not have to print out anything. I have even downloaded and read a few stories on my Nook. However, I would not call the stories I've downloaded books. They do not meet my above requirements, though they are novels. An e-book is not a book because, despite what can be done with e-readers--added sound effects, added heft, covers that make it seem like a book--it does not, above all else, smell like a book. There are ways to change that. One could spritz it with a certain perfume from CB I Hate Perfume (In The Library), but it's not the same. Electronic books are posers that really don't deserve to be called books because they fail to meet my requirements of what makes a book a book.