“If you live way outside of civilization (but still have good enough reception to download books) or are constantly traveling and don’t have a home address, I can see owning an eBook reader” – Zac Bissonnette Business Times.
I bought an e-reader yesterday, because I will be travelling for a couple of months with 23 kgs and don’t have rooms for books.
Otherwise, I am really conflicted, e-readers go against everything I believe in. I love books and flipping pages and having a library and there is nothing like the feeling of closing the last page when finishing a book. Furthermore, being a huge fan of used books and used bookstores, I really don’t think that e-books will save me any money. Instead, my money will be going to Chapters instead of the local independent used bookstores. Even worse, their thousands of free e-books section is actually not that huge and rather arbitrary. I might not need to pay for English classics anymore, but chances are , I already own a lot of them.
In short, I feel like a book traitor, it feels like I almost betrayed something or more an ideology. In theory, it is not a big deal, I have no room for books and being an avid reader, in the next few months, I will probably make some good use of the e-reader and later on, I will come back and it wouldn’t be as important, but someday on a trip, it’ll come in handy again. But I am still conflicted.
For a starter, I was sold into the consumerism trap and convinced myself that this e-reader is actually a good idea – good enough idea to spend $90.00 on. While I did make a point of buying an e-reader only, one that doesn’t have many functions in addition to a dictionary and wifi connection to download the books, I know that this is just another disposable electronic device – a result of capitalism that is on its way to render our daily lives a disposable matter. I also know that soon enough this is just going to lose its battery and become an old, worthless, piece of non-recyclable materials, unlike a book that tends to have more value as it ages.
On a much more complex level, only last week, I was standing in the midst of piles and piles of wanted and unwanted stuff while attempting to move my apartment into my aunt’s basement and embark on to the “no fixed address, living out of a backpack” journey. Among this pile were bags and boxes of books, some to give away and others to keep. It was a daunting process – as moving tends to be (which I am still processing and will save to another blog) – but I specifically needed some time to part with my books and that was a tough one.
Perhaps, some of my discomfort comes from the fact that this e-reader is replacing a life-time relationship, I’ve had with books that I bought from my favourite used bookstores from around the world, books that were given to me as gifts from family and friends or better yet books that I kept from my grandfather’s library, some more than half a century old. This disposable device will never look, smell or feel like a book, it won’t have a sentimental value (especially considering the resentment I have towards it now), or a story associated with it. The words of those books will always be separated by a screen and disappear into the virtual world as soon as I am done with the page which is no longer defined as a page.
As I sit here, looking at my still unopened e-reader, I cannot help but be excited, despite everything, to reading all the Dostoevsky and Thomas Hardy that I want, while being resentful of the fact that I won’t be able to pull out my marker and highlight my favourite passage, and in a very bizarre way that hurts.