Sweating under the old Ra-born Egyptian sun, workers beat together layers of cross-layed papyrus… A medieval lamb is slaughtered and stretched into vellum for an illuminated manuscript (so often immortalizing another Lamb)… In Gutenberg’s press, each letter, carrying its own weight, brands its ink deep into the page… With 48 words, I have just given you 26 minutes of my life. My words are not cheap. Some writers thrill in the process, but I’m not one of those 2AM keystroke masturbators. Sure, I’ve let out the occasion (brutally embarrassing!) orgasmic coffee shop exaltation when a chapter comes together. But for a sensory creature like myself, translating an entire viable world of colours, tastes, and textures into incremental contrasts of black and white is an exhausting exercise in intellectual masochism. So why bother? I write because I have to. Without this medium, I am alone in my ideas; I become mute, a helpless slave to a poorly fitting paradigm that leaves me badly blistered by the end of every workday. I’m writing to escape this cold little office and the passive, slow death it represents. OK, admittedly I’m having a bit of a shitty day here at work – let’s get back on topic. I work because I have to, because I love a man who is everything except a sugar daddy. And I write because I love myself enough to know that this is not enough. I want. I want!! When I climb down after taking my fill of pleasure from that man, I can’t help but revel in naughty glee that my love has left its marks. I was here. I took. I gave. I loved! Throughout our history, words have been born of passion and violence in both form and function. And now what? We take our fill and then turn off the screen? Blank. Nothing. No evidence of our pleasure. No reciprocation of value by the offering of space on a shelf. A denial of value and a denial of time… a denial of ourselves. When you take away the value of words, you take away their power to change. I want my books to remember me. I want to leave them sweaty, ‘red’, and desperate for air – the way they leave me. I want the responsibility for their care and ownership. I want to hold their futures in my hands. And I want them to feel time the way I do, because my own words cost me so much. I want my books wrinkled and scarred, with wayward bugs entombed and immortalized between their pages. But what if you go on vacation? Isn’t an eReader so much more convenient? Since when have words been about convenience?! The last time I opened an Agatha Christie, a small dribble of cottage sand spilled out onto my pillow. I rubbed it between my fingers as I flipped the pages and drank in my paperback’s delicious, comfortable mustiness. Suddenly I was back on the beach, savouring an old friend page by page, memory by memory. Yes, with an eReader or tablet, a Kobo or Kindle, you can bring an entire library with you on vacation, but it only takes one real book to bring the beach back home. I rest my case.
4 thoughts on “Books vs eReaders: A writer’s argument”
Beautiful!!!!!!!’ Best case for books I’ve ever read. Especially the opening paragraph and closing with cottage beach sand!! Standing ovation!!
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Wow – thank you Lynn 🙂 I’m so excited you connected with this piece! It’s a matter close to my heart and I get so riled up when people forget that words don’t just magically blip into being. Your comment took time, energy, and generosity – that’s a hell of a lot more than a blip! Plus, anything that can bring our toes closer to curling into hot beach sand is worth fighting for!!
I agree with Lynn – absolutely the best case for print books I’ve ever seen! Such a cool concept. Books aren’t just an emotional journey (as all writing must be) – the experience of reading them itself adds a dimension. You’ve got me thinking now about the books I’ve read – and WHEN I read them and WHAT was happening when I was reading them and HOW the book might have been part of the whole tapestry, that integration of everything that is life.
Blushing over here! I’m honoured to have inspired a reconnection with your own tactile tapestry. I just hope my office receptionist doesn’t find out what I did with the eReader she lent me for the pic lolz. Ah well, blogging without risk is like… well… reading without risk. Like the time I left a 60s spy novel on the plane – 4 chapters from the grand conclusion! I was left permanently edge of seat about the ending. But that’s the wonderful danger of books, that neglect of mistreatment can have real world emotional consequences. And what is any writer’s goal if not to make their stories real?