i’d like a paper book, please

I have been jonesing for a paper book this week, as I forge ahead through a batch of advanced reader copies from Netgalley (love them! ) that will expire in a week or two and disappear off of my iPad. A paper book, the smell and weight of it, the edges of the paper and the cover illustration that is larger than a thumbnail.

I have come a little late to the virtual reading party, with the gift of my iPad from my (clearly fabulous) husband. It took me awhile to settle in, but I find two things: it’s way easier to buy a virtual book than a paper one with one-click technology, and I tend to read more books now that I have this tool.

That said, I sit in front of a computer much of the day and try to write every day as well so have an hour or two of additional screen time. Eye fatigue is for real. When this happens I will read paper books or newspapers – we subscribe to the seattle Times and the New York Times, so a lot of dead trees flow through my hands. A reading practice is much like a writing or art practice: the more you practice the more you accomplish. So with reading – the more books I read the more I want to read.

These two illustrations are by the brilliant, prolific and warm hearted Edward Ardizzone, from the Eleanor Farjeon book of short stories, The Little Book Room. One of my favorite books, for many reasons. I have been thinking a lot about ebooks vs. paper books, as a friend’s bookstore, Fremont Books, closed this last week, one of a lengthening list. Like a physical book, a bricks and mortar bookstore serves more functions than the delivery of reading material. I fear that in our rush forward to embrace the glories of this new technology and literary ecosystem we will lose altogether these places that serve as social hubs, gatekeepers of arts and culture and support systems for the writers who create books. As well, the pleasures to be had from interacting with a paper book and the important learning that happens with children as they read physical books are to be savored and to be recognized. Learning happens with real people present for young children and in some sense physical books become people. Here we learn about physical space, graphic sorting, the first glimmers of letters and words having meaning, what a character is and the poetry of language. Here, too we form a circle of attention and meaning with the adult who reads to us, who models the activity as important and who looks at us and interacts with us. Irreplaceable and key to development.

My paper book this week will be A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, another gift from my husband. I’m really looking forward to it.

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About Tina Hoggatt

I am an artist and writer and work for 4Culture, King County's cultural arts organization.
This entry was posted in books, postaweek2011, technology, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to i’d like a paper book, please

  1. Alfred Harris says:

    Gosh, where to begin?

    I read Bill Bryson’s At Home, ( how do I underline this?) and gained a lot of chunky philosophy with some Snapple Facts. I loved it.

    I love reading old yellowed mystery paperbacks, partly because of the aroma of the newly cracked page. The fragrance should be bottled.

  2. Tina Hoggatt says:

    I spent many an hour with my nose in an old, yellowed paperback, lurid cover and all. Books are the best. I am taking the Bryson on a trip with me – airplane fodder. Thanks for this image!

  3. Just devoured Andre Agassi’s autobiography, in one day, (a long travel day) in paper form, after equally loving The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, which I read on my Kindle.

    My second NF book is put April 14 from Portfolio (hardcover) and I am psyched at how gorgeous my cover is. I hope readers will read it it in all forms, of course (although e-book royalties are lower.)

    One of the things I love best about paper books is the way the design must pull us into it, not just with a quick click and load into a Nook or Kindle. I love being in a bookstore and eyeballing the tables and shelves to see what lures me in.

    • Tina Hoggatt says:

      There is something in the air. Over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books the talk is of browsing real bookshelves and how that is impossible to reproduce digitally. She asks whether it could be possible to provide digital downloads in a physical bookstore. There’s something about touching and seeing the books that is important. Congrats on the book! And thanks for the visit.

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