Posted on December 14, 2013 in Archive

Loving an ereader is perfectly natural


Everyone (and I mean everyone) forms attachments to material possessions. If you don’t, then you are probably living on a commune in the wilderness that shuns ownership, and are in the minority against the society of today. So to the people who claim that paper books are superior because of the bond formed with the paper, ink and bound cover, I ask this – why are people allowed to “form bonds” with paper books and not ebooks? Also, why is “I love paper” such a legitimate excuse for bibliophiles to so completely reject the ereader?

This article on the Guardian, “An ereader is more like a book than you think…” got me thinking about physical attachments, when James Bridle broke his ereader. Almost immediately, he missed his ebooks and when he got a replacement, immediately set about personalising the exterior of the ereader to suit his personality and usage of the device. He found comfort in the fact that all his bookmarks and margin scribblings endured. For sure, a sign that he felt passionately about the temporary loss of his ereader is that he devoted an entire article to the topic for the Guardian.

I won’t deny that I’ve certainly formed attachments to paper books – several years ago, I owned a book that was so well-thumbed that the spine detached from the book and several chapters worth of pages came loose. And when that happened, I sticky-taped the whole thing back together, and it still sits on my bookcase to this day. But that won’t stop me from collecting the same book on an ereader if I choose – because it’s the memories connected to the story, not just the actual pages, that are important. Indeed, this article on Ars Technica shows that people are more likely to form an emotional bond with books than anything else, and that’s fine – just don’t exclude those who love their leather-bound ereader, not their leather-bound encyclopaedia.

What’s interesting is, even though that article is from 2008, a large percentage of people would be willing to purchase an ereader once they knew all of the features and capabilities of the device. So maybe the people holding out against ebooks are only doing so because they aren’t well-informed enough to make a switch or even, heck, try using both concurrently. Familiarity boosts attractiveness, apparently!

Attractiveness might be a factor for those who particularly retain special favour for books. Some people value books in their household as highly as a couch or a bed. Nothing makes the statement “I’m an intellectual book person” as strongly as wall-to-wall bookshelves in your house. Just like this guy:

Liquid State - ereader

No one would ever doubt Karl Lagerfeld’s love for books after he posed on a coffee table with sunglasses on, inside. That’s just the bottom half of his bookcase, by the way.

People are capable of connecting with any kind of object – who says it can’t have a computer chip? Some articles out on the Internet even suggest that owning and loving books can become detrimental – this particular article instructs you on how to become a “book minimalist” and stop being what is essentially a book hoarder. That isn’t really an issue for ereader owners.

Actions, events and associations can create attachments with ereaders and imbue memories just as easily. Anyone who’s ever been upset about smashing their smartphone to bits or losing the backup of their laptop can attest to this. Therefore, loving an ebook and loving a paper book are equally sensible!

So give ereader love a chance. You never know if or when it’ll hit you, but it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to spend eternity with one or the other. (Here’s a handy tip: If you really are missing your hardcover, give this crafty trick a go)