Sunday, 7 September 2008

Books are too heavy, man

Sony’s electronic book reader was launched last week – a rather smart looking thing that is capable of storing 160 books whilst weighing the same as a small pea. Okay, I might be exaggerating about the weight, having no scales, or, perhaps more importantly, no electronic book reader to compare said pea to, but the weight issue of books really hit home when attempting to move over 300 of the buggers out of the old flat this weekend.

No matter how carefully you pack them, no matter if you invest in the right ‘book boxes’ to help store them, they still feel like you are picking up a box full of bricks. Even worse for poor J who does the main bulk of the carrying - I do feel guilty as he lugs yet another box from my ‘library’ down the stairs while I hover behind with a few paperbacks.

It has made me rethink (slightly) my opinion of electronic reading gadgets.

I was definitely opposed – it was like pushing CDs to a vinyl lover. I love the whole package of being a book-reader – the design on the book cover, the feel of the book in my hands, even the smell of the pages in some cases. I like to carry one about with me at all time (at the moment I am reading ‘Kes’), and didn’t see the appeal of carrying 160 in electronic format – I certainly wouldn’t wish to flick between books like I do my ipod. And as for holidays and travelling – the former I would be worried whether I dropped it into the swimming pool, the latter it would surely be nicked before you put on your second flip-flop. So what was the point, I thought?

Yet after gazing at the stack of boxes in the removal van, yes I can see the point. Only half of them do I keep and collect as I like the whole package – the hardbacks of Tom Sawyer, the delightful old illustrations of Agatha Christie’s books, the pulp fiction books, the TV / film tie-ins of the 70’s, the classics – these are the ones I am proud to display on my shelves. The Harry Potters, Bill Brysons, Dan Browns, Stephen Lawhead – I may love the stories inside but I don’t fall in love with the package. So these could, almost, go on an electronic reader and then I save myself the hassle of lugging them around… but… at the end of the day, I prefer to read the book rather than look at yet another screen. So it looks like me and my mini library will be coexisting together for a good while longer yet.


musicobsessive said...

I know what you mean. The last time I moved I had a huge collection of LPs, a huge collection of CDs and a reasonable book count to move.

I'm having the same dilemma over moving from CD to download that I had over LP to CD. Somehow a download album doesn't really exist in this world - only the virtual world and I feel I have no hold over it. It doesn't even have a proper cover so the descent from LP to CD to MP3 has been very depressing for those of us that love cover art.

I guess the same applies to books. Not to hold them is somehow incorrect and not to see the cover is worse. I shan't be buying an electronic reader just yet but I can see the tube full of them soon!

Jayne said...

I know what you mean with download albums - they are convenient but oh, it's just not the same, is it?!

I love cover art - with both albums and books. It's that visual interpretation of what is inside - an extra clue - and I think it is depressing to leave it behind. Things like that gave the listener (or now reader, maybe) an extra connection - stripping it all away just seems very bare to me.