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The Splendor of Print on Paper

I'm a ravenous reader of books. When I say books, I mean books. I'm a snob for the sensation of fine paper on my fingertips; no soft glow of a Kindle in sight when I'm keen on losing myself in some dreamer's delight..

candle, book, poetry, lamp
photo by Morgan Barrett

Is there something to it, or am I simply a snob? The thought of 'reading a book' on a device rather than, well, reading a book, makes me recoil in horror! I'm being dramatic, but really, I feel like I'd lose part of the experience of getting lost in a good story if I were to forego the sensation of holding a book in my hand. For me, the physical connection is part of the allure of the rendezvous with a good read.

I do understand the reasons people read on a device, and I've toyed with the idea myself. Yes, I admit it, I've considered the Kindle. I regularly endure the ridicule my beloved husband bestows upon me for being a canvas-bag-full-of-books-toting nerd whenever we load up the car for a roadtrip of an hour or more in duration. I simply cannot stand the idea of being caught bored without a book (or five) in hand, so I travel heavy. I have thought to myself, "is tolerating the taunting and teasing worth the toting? Would it not be easier to e-read and avoid the assault altogether?" Nay, I say. The pressure of print on paper pressing on my palms presents me too much pleasure to part with.

It is true, however, that I occasionally listen to books on audio. But somehow, that seems acceptable; perhaps because it's such a different experience than curling up, cuddling a book. Listening to a story demands a different type of focus. When only my ears are engaged, I can easily get chores done around the house; I can drive my car, I can go for a jog, I can carry out other commitments. Listening doesn't require the forfeiture of productivity, the full surrender to story. As such, I'm convinced I consume the narrative with less nuance. It's simply not the same.

On the contrary, the cursed Kindle disguises itself as a demure stand-in for the splendor of print on paper. Ah, a decoy, a fake. I declare, it is not the same! A compact, oh-so-convenient seductress — beguiling, bewitching, ensnaring unsuspecting revelers of reading. Bibliophiles, beware!

There's really nothing quite like cracking open a cover; the magic begins to pour out as soon as page one is turned. The best way to read, in my inflated opinion, is snuggled up in bed, covers pulled up to the chin, lamp light low; teeth brushed, face washed, tucked in til tomorrow; pages and print in front of one's nose, close enough to smell the scent of the page. I prefer a hardcover over paperback, and though I like to write short-form, I appreciate the long-form. Give me all the details, set the scene, create for me characters who are completely colored-in. Cherished are the curated worlds, the chaotic, the melancholy. the bare-bones honesty, the pain over pretty.

I guess I don't know, since I've yet to read a book on a device, but I just can't imagine losing myself as completely in a screen as I do in between the physical pages I read. A swipe to the next 'page'? I just don't know. I think I'd be distracted by the glow. It's just too similar to the rapid, rabid pace of the scrolling on my phone. Give me a bound bundle of paper, pages that can tear, words that I can feel, raised slightly off the surface. It's the form of the book that transports me, in sync with the story.

I didn't set out to assault you with alliteration, dear reader, but alas, here we are. I suppose it's fitting though, to embellish this writing with a bit of literary flamboyance and flair, seeing as this is is a persuasion piece of sorts, pulling for print on paper. If you have an observant eye, you may have picked up on the sprinkled-in bits of British phrasing as well — The Queen of Thieves is to blame; I just set Beezy Marsh's early 20th century masterpiece back on my bookshelf after a breezy and bold two-week read. She's influenced me, you see.

I'll leave it to you. The decision, of course, is yours. But before I go, here's my final throw: Can you keepsake a Kindle? No. Can you toss it to the other end of the room when you've pored over a passage that's properly pissed you off? No. Can you pluck it off your favorite bookstore shelf, No, Does your heart skip a beat when the mailman stops by and you know in your bones it's your book in that box, No, Can you hand it off to a friend, or down to a daughter, No!

I rest my case, print on paper is best.


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