In a day of technology, I find it odd that I have several friends who despise digital books. Some of these friends are even authors who make a living selling eBooks. They much prefer the texture of a physical book in their hands, the smell of the paper and covers, the weight of the tome in their hands and lap as they settle in to enjoy a tale of adventure. To be honest, I don’t really blame them. I love those things about physical books as well and have shelf upon shelf of stories and signed books just waiting to be opened and explored. However, I’m also a practical hoarder of books and to own that many would agitate the girls as we tried to figure out where to house them all, so I’ve had to make some compromises over the years. While I am not a hater of digital books, now it depends on what the book is about as to whether or not I own the physical copy or a digital.
Permit me to make another confession—I write in books. I highlight, underline, and scribble notes as if each book I read is a textbook and I’m studying hard for a test. In a way, I am. I’m studying my craft, mining for ideas for future stories, and researching current ones for plot and setting. These books I prefer to own in physical form, just because for me, it’s easier to go back and find things or to skip around to what I need or want to reread. eBooks are not that easy to maneuver, in my opinion, even though most have that Go To function or allow you to see all of your notes at once. I need to see my observations in context to remember what my note even means.
This has actually been an undertaking of mine over the past couple of years, to increase my research library. There are biographies, histories, books on fashion, religion, occupations, as well as thesauruses geared toward different genres. My library is filling up and I already need a bigger office while the stack of books beside my recliner grows almost daily.
Then there are my signed copies. We have a shelf in our home designated specifically for these treasured memories, signed books from authors I enjoy, friends in the industry I admire, and people I respect. The funny thing here is that I don’t read these physical copies because I don’t want to ruin them. Instead, I purchase the eBooks and read those. I know, I know. It’s just one of my many quirks, but I want the signed copies as pristine as the day I bought them.
The hardbacks of my all-time favorite authors—Terry Brooks, Mercedes Lackey, Terry Goodkind—are a must as well. These are my collectible books, the ones I just have to have and read, to touch with my hands as well as my mind. Several I read over and over again just because they grip me or mean something special to me, such as The Sword of Shannara, which started me reading and writing.
These books fill my shelves and always will. However, everything else, all the fictional worlds I explore thanks to other authors, I prefer on my Kindle. It’s a portable library that I keep with me at all times, because you never know when you’re going to be waiting and have time to enjoy a few pages of a story. Furthermore, with me, I never know what I’m in the mood to read and I usually read two or three books at time. With my tablets, idea books, and other things I carry around with me because of my craft, the girls refuse to see me lug around four or five books as well, especially since most of my books are two to three inches thick. The Kindle, therefore, works perfectly for me, my entire library in the palm of my hand. I don’t have to decide what to take on the cruise with me to read, or on any other vacation, because I have all of my books right there, over a thousand tucked into my briefcase.
I love the feel of a good book in my hands, the experience of turning the page and running my finger down the words on a page. There’s something about turning it over in my hands, examining the spine, flipping through the pages just to hear that sound, or holding it to my nose and breathing in the ink and paper to savor the aroma for awhile. There truly is nothing like it. However, I also love the ease and convenience of modern technology and the way it allows me to carry my possessions everywhere I go, because going somewhere seems to be on my To Do List every day.
So, you see, it’s one of those compromises between what I love and what is necessary—a library divided, but still whole. My shelves are full, both physically as well as digitally, and yet, there is plenty of room for more, which is good, because I just placed another order for more books on the history of North Carolina.
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Until next time, keep chasing your fantasies!