Recently I saw a commercial for the Kindle. The commercial consisted of a guy reading off of a Kindle and a girl reading from a book and the two going back and forth about how one is better than the other. The thing is though; the girl didn’t make a very good argument for books at all. I know that’s kind of the point; after all, they want to sell Kindles. But really, she just pissed me off. She only made two points and her second point is one that no true book lover would ever make ever. It was that you can’t fold down the corner of a page to mark your place with a Kindle. No one who truly cares for their books would ever fold down the corner to mark their place ever. It simply isn’t done.
I believe I’ve already told you how much I love books. I love the way they smell, the way they feel, the pages, the covers the binding, the weight, everything. I love everything about books, old and new. Stories are told through books, not only by what the words they contain but by the way they look and feel and smell. Reading from an e-reader might be more convenient but it’s not the same experience. This is the argument that should have been made, not ‘you can’t vandalize your book if it doesn’t exist in physical space.’
This is going to sound funny to anyone who knows who has seen my book collection but I believe that books should be treated well. I love my books and I hate to see harm come to them. That being said, I don’t believe that books should be kept in a glass case where they can’t be enjoyed, nor do I believe that a little bit of wear is a bad thing. I believe books should be well loved, but not abused.
Shall I give you two extremes? My sister is a destroyer. She breaks things. It doesn’t matter what it is or how sturdy, she’ll find away, that’s just how she is. She was once given a copy of Swan Songs: In Search of the Staffstone by David Everette Howell. The copy was brand new but by the time I got a chance to read it the book looked like it was decades old. The cover was scarred, the pages were stained with coffee, and it was generally in pretty poor condition. This is beyond well loved into the realm of book abuse.
On the other hand I have friends who freak out over a bent page. Not deliberately bent, mind you, just that accidental, closed the book too fast, page corner got caught sort of bent. My books are in pretty good condition by to them they are destroyed because their spines are full of creases and their cover corners have been bent. It happens with paperback books. They need to get over it. Books are meant to be loved and some hazards cannot be avoided.
Seriously though, some things should never be done to a book. You should never turn down the pages ever. That’s how books get torn and lose corners. It really isn’t that hard to find a scrap of paper to shove in there to mark your place, there’s no need to hurt those poor defenseless pages. You shouldn’t write on your books either. I don’t mean in your books, I’ll address that in a minute. I mean on top of your books, especially if they’re paperback. I know sometimes you need something hard to write on but still, if it can be avoided it should be. No good will come from putting dents in your book covers.
Writing in books is a difficult subject to address. In some cases it’s not so bad, in others it’s bordering on blasphemy. If it’s your book and you are using it for a class of some sort that requires you to take notes on it, it may be okay, depending on the book. If at all possible, it is best to use sticky notes. They make ones just for this purpose. If not possible… well I guess it’s acceptable… but still frowned upon. Just writing in a book for the hell of it is never acceptable, however. It accomplishes nothing but harming a perfectly good book. I can understand putting your name on the front cover so that it will come back to you should you lose it or lend it to someone less than trustworthy, but scribbling on the pages for whatever reason is disrespectful to the book and should never be done, ever.
And so we come to the point. E-readers may be nice, but they will never be the same as books. I understand that most people aren’t as crazy as I am and for them they’re just as good. Maybe it’s true, but I’ll stick with my books. I simply ask that those of you who read books treat them well. I can ask no more than that.