Making Friends With the e-book

I LOVE the smell of books. Put me in The Bodleian, Blackwells, or the most common book seller’s, and the first thing I will do is breathe a long, heady draught of book scent. Then I will run my fingers over the bindings. Especially the leather. I am mad about leather bindings. Finally, reverently, I will tenderly explore the surface of the pages. Nubby cloth, hearty and strong. Fresh, new paper, cold, slick. I have a peculiar affinity for pages with torn edges.

The experience of reading a book is often far more than words or story. Which is why something inside me rebelled against the very idea of an e-book. But, I have to tell you, I am becoming a fan. Mostly, because I have been able to vastly expand my library for a fraction of the cost. Old books, the ones I love best, are often free. Even current authors, like Steven Pressfield, Tim Sanders, and Seth Godin have offered their new books for free for a limited time. And I have immediate access. No driving to the library or the bookstore. No waiting for the postman. No shipping costs.

I worried I wouldn’t be able to interact with my books. But this has not been the case. I can highlight and write notes and fold down pages just like I normally would. And with a click I can pull up all my highlighted passages. Some books also allow me to obtain definitions for words or translations for foreign terms. And even if this is not a built in feature, my dictionary is only a click away.

Here is the part that might surprise you, I have obtained all these benefits without ever buying an e-reader. I downloaded a FREE Kindle app to my computer and to my iPhone. AND they talk to each other! So, if I read the first seven chapters of The Count of Monte Cristo before bed on my computer, then decide to knock out another chapter the next day on my phone while waiting for an appointment, my phone will ask me if I would like to jump ahead to the farthest place read. I am sure this is also true if you have an e-reader.

I remain a sucker for first editions. For tomes old enough to have a story. Scribbles, a bookmark, from another place, another time. But I have made a place in my heart, and in my library, for books that sail to me across years and across wires and air, to arrive inside an electronic device.

Incidentally, if you miss the scent of a “real” book, you might be interested in this curious product I happened upon recently: Smell of Books: An Aerosol e-book Enhancer ๐Ÿ˜‰

What is your personal experience with the e-book?