How Do You Dog-Ear an E-Reader Again?


Elizabeth Creith

I’ve been thinking about e-books this week. I have a book of my own coming out in the spring, and I’ve begun announcing the publication date to my network of friends. One woman asked me if it was coming out as an e-book.

“I ask as I’m a non-print-reading person, so I’m all about e-texts!” she said in her email.

I guess this means she doesn’t read print on paper. I don’t know what you call that stuff on the e-reader, or on my computer monitor, for that matter, but I’ve always thought of it as print. Sorta electronic print, made with little electrons or something.

I’m not a big fan of e-readers, and I know this is going to get me into trouble with people who are all about saving the trees and the planet. To paraphrase Madonna, we’re living in an e-book world, and I’m a tree-book girl.

I do have my reasons. Some of them are purely sensory. I mean, there’s nothing like the smell of a new book; that clean smell of pulverized, soaked and pressed wood-pulp, overlaid with the lingering volatile elements of chemical colorants and industrial adhesives. An old book is so much better—the adhesive solvents may have disappeared, but you can count on a solid lungful of antique dust and mold to enhance your reading experience.

How can scent-free electrons compare with this? I mean, the most they could do is short out and give you a kind of ozone whiff, but they’d probably fry your book in the process, which is counterproductive in terms of reading experience.

Then there’s the whole “can you read an e-reader in the bathtub?” question. I don’t know if you can or not. I do know I’d be pretty nervous about dropping it in and winding up fricasseed or flash-cooked or whatever. Not to mention the fact that it would, once again, fry the book.

True, if the power goes out you can read an e-book in the dark on your e-book reader of choice—at least, until the battery wears out. After that, no amount of candlelight will allow you to find out who committed the Murders in the Rue Morgue. Even in daylight, unless you have an extra battery, you’re stuck with print on paper.

“But,” I hear you cry, “it lets you have hundreds and hundreds of books at your fingertips!”

My home library does that. And, let’s face it, the e-reader is a library disaster waiting to happen. Sand in the gears, dropping it on the concrete—or in the bath—any number of accidents, boo-boos and oopsies can do mass e-book destruction the like of which has not been seen since Fahrenheit 451. Things would have to get pretty drastic in the tree-book library to do total wipe-out damage.

When the zombie apocalypse comes—or the Mayan Apocalypse of 2012—electric power will be at a premium, if it exists at all. In fact, all kinds of power will probably be valuable, including fire. While I’m not a proponent of book-burning, I will say this; you could get a pretty good blaze out of the unabridged OED on paper, but an e-book reader wouldn’t even make kindling.

Elizabeth Creith is a biblioholic and incurable librocubicularist. Not only does she buy, read, shelve and stack books, but she also writes them and on occasion makes them by hand. Elizabeth lives and writes in Wharncliffe, Northern Ontario, distracted occasionally by her husband, dog, and cat. The Scriptorium is where she blogs about writing and life. Contact Elizabeth.



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