We demand a lot. Quickly. And we want it to be said in as few words as possible. Scrap that – as few characters as possible. Try 140? – that’s 7 left, not counting the title.
The rise of the e-book and our never-ending love affair with the internet have changed
the written word, but what of our old companions, left gathering dust on the bookshelf?
I am the first person to champion the book – I am an English literature student after all – and I know I’m not the only one who still crams my shelves full of them: hardback, paperback, second-hand, loved to pieces, loved for their sheer beauty, the I-always-meant-to-get-round-to-it books. But I have made a step closer to the digital age. I bought an iPad.
Have I defected to the dark side, or just accepted a fact of life and moved on? I’m inclined to say it’s not quite either – I use my iPad for a lot of things I didn’t before, and I’m not sure how comfortable I would be going back to life pre-Pad, but I still haven’t lost my love for books (having multiple copies of the same text just for their pretty covers is normal, right?) And as much as I love that I no longer have to lug half a bookshelf around campus every day, the book still holds some inexplicable magic for me. To hold a book, to really open it for the first time or to re-bend a love-worn spine and come across pages dog-eared for their beautiful prose – it’s these reading experiences that no tablet or e-reader could ever truly offer. Yes, it’s sentimental, but aren’t the best books those that make us feel something? The ones that stay with us – maybe not in our handbags – but at least in who we have become because of them.
That’s not to say that tablets and e-readers are not a genuine alternative to print – the world of reading has changed forever, that’s undeniable, but I don’t think we’ll ever be quite ready to say goodbye to the book completely.
And my iPad? The only thing I’m sure about is that my bank account is definitely not happy about it…