What Will Our Sense Memories of Books Be With EBooks?
On p. 4 of Carlos Ruiz’s beautiful novel, The Shadow and The Wind, (Penguin, 2005), he writes, “I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.”
What will our sensory memories be of books in the digital era? As I sniff my Kindle, I only get a sense of something blocking air, a plastic odor, like a straw that you’ve been biting on. Despite the dust-free, mold-free benefits of ebooks, will there be a loss for us?
My mother wasn’t a reader, but she was a buyer of books. She bought me a set of Childcraft. Remember their deep read leatherette covers? My volume one (Nursery Rhymes) and my volume two (Fairy Tales) had loose bindings and the edges of the cover were no longer perfect rectangles because I read them over and over. Also, I read Golden Books like Nurse Nancy and Doctor Dan. Yes, I know, I know they are politically incorrect, but there were real bandaids between the covers. Ebooks can’t give you bandaids.
My mother bought old books, small leather volumes like Tanglewood Tales and The Last Days of Pompeii and kept them in boxes in the basement. Whenever we had floods, she’d lovingly take the books out, put paper towels between their damp pages, go over them with hair dryers, anything to save them. (If only she’d read them.) But never mind, it shows the love and respect for books, the physicality of them, the weight in your hands.
In the arts section of the NYT, I read that during the holidays people flocked to the bookstore, never mind ebooks. Maybe all our sensual memories of books will be mixed with the scent of pine needles or latkes. A gift from the holidays
December 22, 2011 @ 12:55 am
Hooray for good old fashioned books!
January 2, 2012 @ 9:00 pm
Thanks for the replay!
December 30, 2011 @ 2:18 pm
I loved the Childcraft books!!! I remember when my mum first got them I used to run off to my room with them for hours (particularly the first one). When I go to visit I still pick up that book and remember how I’d curl up on my bed and enjoy those stories.
Funnily enough, I asked myself a similar question the other day (having been gifted a kindle for Christmas) and decided that the printed book will always, always come out on top for the sheer experience of holding the book in your hand. ebooks (for me at least) are going to become the added extra for a quick, easy (and cheap fix) when I need something new from an indie writer.
December 30, 2011 @ 4:24 pm
Dear Ilandra, So very nice of you to post a comment. I know I have many readers, but few stop to tell me what memory my post jogged in them. I just gave my granddaughter an old illustrated Peter Pan because we just saw the show with Cathy Rigby at Madison Square Garden. She treasured it and tears came to my eyes when I read the inscription–“For my dear daughter, Merry Xmas, the father’s name and then Christman, 1936.”
January 2, 2012 @ 5:05 pm
I had stacks and stacks of Golden Books and loving memories of my mother reading to me before I could read them on my own. I remember hiding under my blanket with a flashlight so I could just finish the last chapter in my Nancy Drew book. It’s hard to create memories with a kindle.
January 2, 2012 @ 9:01 pm
Thanks so much for the reply and sharing your memories.
January 3, 2012 @ 12:45 am
Thank you so much for replying and sharing your memories with everyone.