From the Smart Set:
Whatever their motivation, however, book collectors help to preserve this physical culture and ensure that our printed matter will still exist in the future. They are the most likely to fight libraries for the preservation of old newspapers or dig around estate sales and attics to find lost manuscripts by writers like Poe or Blake.
The whole thing makes for a good read. I just take a bit of an exception to the above. The idea that it’s the book collectors & not the passionate reader who will ensure the continuity of printed matter doesn’t sit well with me.
While a Kindle or a Sony e-reader most definitely has its own set of advantages, it cannot make up for the experience of holding a book with its crispy new papers in your hands… with the print all fresh and its smell pervading your senses. Nor (with a Kindle or a e-book reader) can you end up creasing the paper inadvertently or stain the pages with the tiny crumbles of whatever you were eating which despite your best efforts lands on the book. In other words, the book in the Kindle/reader retains its aloofness – you cannot subject it to the process which makes a book indelibly yours.
This making of the book indelibly yours is an important rite for the reader, I think. It’s why a reader like me loathes to misplace a book. Or as the writer says:
I don’t miss the stories in Isak Dinesen’s Seven Gothic Tales. I can hop over to East of Eden bookstore and probably find a copy of the same book. But it wouldn’t have the same smell, it wouldn’t be a perfect 1960s Modern Library hardback edition, and it wouldn’t have my 2007 Dublin bus schedule jammed between the pages as a bookmark. I don’t miss the book, I miss the book. I hope it’s being read and loved right now, and my bus schedule replaced with a subway pass or a receipt for coffee and an almond croissant.
The book becomes more than just the story. It absorbs a part of the reader within its pages.