Books and newspapers – my “e” evolution

The article Words, in any form by Daphne Lee (The Star, Sunday, November 3, 2013) brought to mind my own journey to ebooks enlightenment.

Of my love of ink on pulp

I was first acquainted with the idea of electronic books in 2009 when hubby shared that his best friend had bought a Kindle, Amazon.com’s e-book reader. I know, I know, you must be thinking I’m antiquated! Well I can’t help it if I’ve been living in what I truly believed was blissful oblivion.

My relationship with books is somewhat strange. I absolutely love the look, feel, and smell of new books and would take great pains to try and keep them that way. These include (but not limited to) strictly no bookmarking by means of dog-ears and taking extra care to prevent unsightly spine creases. I recall the numerous times I stifled my anger and disappointment when books lent to friends came back looking like they’ve been battered in war.

Ah, the fresh scent of ink on pulp wafting through my nostrils can almost certainly send me on a new-book-induced high. Covers, beautiful covers with embossed and/or ultraviolet (UV) print feel so sublime to the touch.

As you can derive from my descriptions so far, my affinity for books to a large extent has to do with their physical presentation. But I must ruefully admit it is fundamentally the ingenious narrative within which drives the procurement as it would be sheer folly to buy a book just for the look, feel, and smell of it.

The ebook temptation

Four years on and I’ve finally come face-to-screen with ebooks of my own. Reason for this development is my not-too-recently acquired mobile phone now allows me the luxury of this sweet feature.

Though in theory resistant to this evolution initially, I’ve come to embrace it with open arms. It is fabulous to enjoy ease of access to several books merely taps away on my mobile phone that’s with me almost everywhere I go.

Book storage conundrums have plagued me for a long time. I used to line them up on limited shelf space but found it a pain keeping them dust-free. Then big boxes with covers became their new homes. Dust issue solved but since I continuously acquired more, I then suffered serious lack of space. Sadly, I had to give up a large portion of my collection when baby was on the way in order to create space in a heavily-cluttered home. With ebooks, the only clutter I’ll need to contend with is the one on whichever device storing them.

Additionally, I can now strike off the headache of deciding which books to take with me on trips. Liberated, I no longer need to worry about space and weight constraints.

By going paper-less, am I also doing my bit for the environment? With more people converting to ebooks, hopefully less hardcopies will need to be printed so less trees victimized. Right? Or is it not that simple in the world of publishing? Of this I’m not sure but I’d like to think collectively, we’ll make an impact.

The exception – newspapers

As much as ebooks have delighted me, I find myself unable to appreciate the same in newspapers. Although I do read news online but I’m most gratified when my fingers are blackened with ink during the weekends – which is when we subscribe to delivery of hardcopies by our friendly neighborhood newspaperman.

I have a ritual when it comes to newspapers. First, separate the sections, which can come up to as many eight on Sundays. Next, work through them page by page, section by section, starting with the one of least interest. I literally go through the entire print, not necessarily delving into every article or story in detail though.

Obviously online versions aren’t able to confer me the satisfaction of performing my cherished ritual. In addition, I often find myself lost in the ocean of links.

In sum

As far as books are concerned, I consider myself fully converted, preferring electronic versions over hardcopies where available. Yes, I do sometimes find myself longing for the good ‘ole hardcopies. I comfort myself by reiterating the whole purpose of my perusal, which is to savor the subject matter not the object. This is especially so when they contain mainly text. Even then, there are many children’s picture books available in beautifully-illustrated electronic format. Some are even interactive which ups the ante for ebooks further.

Admittedly I read news online daily, but I’m still holding on to my weekend finger-staining-black-ink newspapers for now. Old habits definitely die hard and for me, this is a stubborn one to shake off. Perhaps in another four years…

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