Have you run your fingers over some hieroglyphs recently? Perhaps you browsed through the news in a vellum codex this morning? Read a scroll on your daily commute?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you’re likely an archaeologist and you are excused from reading further. For the rest of you, I have one simple question: why?
The answer is relatively simple: progress.
I’m sure there were people who resisted the change from the scroll to the codex, the Dark Age equivalent of the trolls who decry the ever-increasing switch away from paper towards electronic books. Just as the Luddites failed to halt the advances of the Industrial Revolution, so too will the tree-killing paper lovers fail to stop the sweep of the e-reader and the tablet.
Don’t get me wrong. I love books. Paper ones, that is. Had I the choice, I would happily while away my time in a personal library, surrounded by the sheer presence of books, my eyes attracted occasionally to the special motes of dust that one only finds near a collection of books. I would sit in that library, breathing in the dustily dry smell of the books, as I read on my Kindle.
You see, ebooks are just too convenient. I travel a lot, and appreciate being able to carry hundreds of books with me in one handy little package. I watch my parents increase the font size, making it easier for them to read the latest John Grisham. I get an email from Amazon minutes after my wife finishes a book, telling me that she has purchased another, after browsing the virtual bookshelves. In-built dictionary, note-taking facility, adjustable screen brightness – the list goes on.
My final epiphany came a few months ago. A good friend released her long-awaited book and kindly sent me a review copy. I was so excited when it arrived – the look, the smell, the feel of it – it was real! I’ll confess that the autographed compliments slip added a nice touch.
I started to read the book. The content was wonderful, dryly humourous, with enough vitriol to make me smile and even laugh out loud on occasion. My wife started to grumble that I still had my light on. Could I turn the pages more quietly? But the straw that broke the camel’s back came when my thumb started to grow tired holding the pages open! I persevered, but concluded that I’ll stick with my Kindle.
There’s also the minor fact that Amazon alone sold more than three billion ebooks last year. Now I just have to figure out how to get my 0.1% share…