Paperback Books, Still Nice

Anna Nguyen/New University

By Annie Kim
Staff Writer

In our generation and the future to come, technology is and will be constantly advancing and wiggling its way into our lives. Once a upon a time, technology replaced the carrier pigeon with huge brick telephones which eventually evolved in to cellphones, and now on to do-it-all iPhones and other smartphones.

In today’s society, who needs to hang out with friends when you can easily text or connect with them through Facebook on your trusty iPhone? There is never a “happily ever after” ending when technology completely takes over. Technology may have its hands on phones and high-tech mini laptops but it will not get the best of our old familiar books.

Recently, technology has been trying to push out the paper pages of our old printed friends in replacement of a cold, steely flat piece known as eReaders and eBooks. This new invention provides one with the opportunity to download over 90,000 books that can be conveniently carried in a regular-sized purse, backpack or briefcase. With a few finger taps away, this little device can give you instant connection to newspapers, blogs and current events. eReaders can also play the role of a dictionary by simply poking a word you do not recognize.

I was extremely tempted to purchase an eReader as a birthday present for my book-loving mother at a Barnes & Noble Bookstore. As I stood in line to pay for the fancy-packaged Nook, my eyes fell upon the rows of tall-standing wooden shelves neatly displaying the spines of endless books, each filled with their own story of adventure, heartbreaking romance, comedy, travel, old literature or mystery. I hesitantly left my place in line, picked up a random paperback book and walked slowly back to the Nook bookstand.
I carefully picked up the sample Nook at the stand, letting it sit in my hands as the hard plastic screen stared back at me. Then, I picked up the paperback book and felt its smooth cover resting in the grip of my fingers. The edges of the lightly brown pages brushed against my fingers as I gently flipped through the book. It was, at that moment, in front of the Nook stand at Barnes & Noble, where I realized that the intricate details that come with each individual book will always have an edge over the technology of eBooks.

Book lovers such as myself say there is a certain feel you get from a book that you cannot get from a lifeless eBook. This feel is described as more “personable” as you read your favorite novel propped in your hands under a tree, on a warm sunny day.
Advocates for eBooks would say they could do the same, which is true, but the feel of your own book is what sets the argument of printed book lovers apart. I own a worn down copy of my favorite book, “Eat, Pray, Love,” which I have read over and over numerous times on plane rides to my own life adventures, car rides during road trips and typical times curled up in my bed before I hit the lights. The beaten-up pages to my book hold my handwritten words of jotted down thoughts and feelings I had at a single moment about what I have learned from those printed words before me. That book has been with me across the world to my planned trip to Egypt, my spontaneous spree to New York and in the comfort of my own home and because of this, no eBook could ever replace or remind me about memories I pick up that book.

The “feel” of a printed book isn’t all that makes it more personable, but it is the reason why you made the purchase. It could be as simple as your attraction to the title, the colorful cover or short summary that sparks your interest.

Or it could be as complicated as investing in a book that will help you understand more about who you are, learning about the hobby of a romantic partner or a mournful story entangled with a heartfelt lesson, that will help you cope from your own tragic loss.

Whatever the reason for your purchase is, that book you own on your shelf may remind you of a life lesson learned, an old friend, a familiar moment or just for the plain luxury of reading it because it’s a good book. On eBooks, it’s great that you can download over 90,000 books but after a while, it’s nothing more than just another download on your delicate rectangular platform.
A hard cover or paperback book will always be more stable and reliable than an eBook. Ten years down the road, your book will still be safely sitting on your bookshelf collecting dust. Who knows what will be of your eBook a decade from now. Technology is never 100 percent reliable. We constantly lose files on computers, important word documents on laptops, etc. — so what makes you so sure that the 90,000 books you downloaded will still be there in a decade or so. Will you be able to count on your little eBook which is built on man-made technology to still be up and running? I guess we’ll find out in another eight years or so.
In our daily life, we commonly bring books to read as we take a warm bubble bath to wind down our day or to do our typical business on the toilet. It’s nothing to be embarrassed of, we all do it. So let’s say one day you carelessly drop your book into the waves of your bathtub or toilet bowl (hopefully, you flushed by then … ), from there you just have to rinse it off and let it sit out and dry. Your book might be a bit crusty and decorated with water stains but the essence of your book is still there! On the other hand, if you drop your eBook in water, there goes your $299 down the drain, literally.

EBooks are a thriving market and will only continue to improve over the coming years but books will always have an upper hand on the little technological device. Good thing I stuck with the traditional purchase of a good-ole- book for my mother’s birthday gift because when I told her I was about to buy her a Nook book she said, “A what?! I can’t even work my 1996 Motorola flip phone, what makes you think I can work a 21st-century ‘Nook thing’?”