I think I know your heart. I think I know the nostalgic and tangible reasons you have for loving your paper.
I was once you.
I remember learning to read. On paper, of course. I remember when the squiggles on the page took form and shaped themselves into words. I remember the very first book I fell in love with – it wasn’t literature exactly, it was Blueberries for Sal, a simple picture book suitable for my age and about a little girl picking blueberries who stumbles across a Mama and baby Bear but learns that the Bear’s mama loves the baby as much as her mom loves her. Or something like that. I had borrowed the book from the library and was heartbroken that I had to give it back.
I read every minute I could and still do. And yet, I admit to you now that I read paper only occasionally and when there is no option.
How did this happen? Why did this happen?
It happened like this:
The first time I saw the light of an eReader was on vacation. I brought books. I read them. I read the mouldy books left behind by previous guests of the villa. There was more vacation than books, and I was in a country not my own; books I wanted to read in my language were hard to find.
On my trusty eReader, I have all my books. Plus, all the books I don’t have – with WiFi, I can download anything I fancy in an instant. There is literally no end to the books at hand. No end at all.
Then, I have a habit of being the last to show up at dinner. But people are now on to me. And so, they take THEIR time and sometimes I am the first to arrive. I could stare at people. I could think my own thoughts. I could write lists for myself on napkins. Or, I could read. And that is what I choose to do, even when I am not expecting to be able to cram a minute’s worth of reading into my day.
I read long into the night. When there is someone sharing my night, this is not always welcome. One partner of mine took to wearing a sleeping mask; another simply broke up with me. I find that the kind of light emitted by an e-Ink eReader is not emitted at all, not in the way it is with a tablet or smartphone and so it is easy on my aging eyes, and very easy on the one trying to sleep next to you.
Though I grew up loving the heft of a book in my hands, I now relish the lightness of an eReader. Books feel heavy to me now.
I love reading outside in my garden in the summer. Summer sunshine reflects off paper and into my eyes; the print on my eReader actually looks sharper, easier to see.
The greatest reason for my conversion, though, is a simple one.
Like you, Paper Lover, I am used to it.
I am used to the convenience of having my books with me wherever I go and being able to swap out when one gets rough, or boring, or I’m finished before I expected and still have time stretching before me.
It is the story itself, the ideas, the narrative, the words, the sentences, and the images conjured and dispelled that I love.
And so, for the advantages you may discover, perhaps most importantly, the advantage of never being without a book and being able to fit reading into random parts of your day, I recommend you at least try an eReader, or reading digitally on a device you already own.
The medium is not the message.
The message is the message.