The very first birthday present I can remember was a hard covered book. It was a Hardy Boys mystery, and the first hard covered book I ever had that was my own. To this day I remember the feel of the book, and the pages, and the sound it made the first time I opened it. And above all, I remember the smell. Each time I was to receive another Hardy Boys book, these would continue to be my first impression.
When I was 13, one of the presents I received was a gift certificate to Brentano's - a bookstore in Manhattan. These were the days before the big chain bookstores, and going in to Manhattan to go to a fancy bookstore was a big deal. I didn't know what kind of book I would come out with, but the thrill of going through the shelves, looking for that special selection that I would spend my gift certificate on was a joy in itself. I eventually found a volume of Sholem Aleichem stories - in a beautifully bound book - which became mine. I loved holding that book and all of the sensory thrills of my earlier Hardy Boys books were amplified in this piece of art.
Yes, I love the feel of a beautifully bound book, and appreciate it for what it is. So does that mean that I am one of those who regard e-books and their necessary readers to be the end of civilization as we know it? No!
And while most e-books are less expensive than their printed edition, there are also sources of free ebooks available on the web right now. Sites such as Project Gutenberg allow any e-book reader to download free books to put on their device. And you are not restricted to any particular company to buy books from, including the one from which you bought your device.
I love the fact that when I am traveling, I can have an entire assortment of books with me, all in one single device that hardly takes up any room in my suitcase or carry-on.
Does this mean that I no longer treasure printed books? By no means. For me, those beautifully bound books will always be something to be appreciated, but the Kindle takes the place of all of those cheap paperback books that I used to travel with. They have always been something to read to fill up some time for me, not in the same league of fine editions on my bookshelf. And I love to re-read many of those paperbacks, but can never find them when I want. My Kindle solves that problem - they are now always right at my fingertips.
So what do you think? Do you have an e-reader? If so, which one? If not, would you consider purchasing one? Why? Why not?
List of sites for free ebooks
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Do you have any to add to this list?