Bibliophilia

bib·lio·phile: a lover of books especially for qualities of format; also : a book collector

I love books. And I’ve come to realize that it’s not just the stories inside or the way they make me feel. I just straight up love books- old or new, dusty, yellowing paperbacks, hardcovers right off the press, thick heavy tomes or slim volumes, I like the way books look, feel, and smell. During the summer months I stop by basement sales or library fundraisers and stock up on books for as cheap as fifty cents a pop. I frequent used book stores like DJ Ernst in Selinsgrove to add depth to my collection. I have a small bookshelf at school filled with the books I love most and a handful I’d like to get to in the near future. At home is another shelf filled with books waiting to be read.

Yet every year as the holiday season approaches I find myself debating a difficult question: should I make the switch to an ereader? Should I trade in the scavenging and sifting of piles in the hopes of maybe finding the title I’m seeking for the instant gratification of a wireless connection? The ereader market has exploded in the last few years, with Barnes and Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle both claiming to offer the reading experience I’ve grown to love.

The Nook Color and the new Kindle Fire compete for the reader who is interested in a multimedia experience. Both allow you to read magazines or children’s books in full color, browse the web, and stream video from the internet. The Kindle Fire has the edge, in that you get Amazon’s integrated cloud system along with it, and easy access to purchasing music, movies, and television shows. But I’m not looking for some fancy tablet computer that also happens to have ebooks on it. I don’t want a backlit screen that will tire my eyes. For reading, I still prefer something more basic.

Nook and Kindle both also offer touch screen options. These are more standard e-readers, featuring the electronic ink technology that mimics the reading experience of a paper page. Here there is no backlight, only gray words on a less gray background. The Kindle also has a version where, instead of a touch screen, there’s a full keyboard. There’s a lot about these ereaders that I like. It would be amazing to have any book out of copyright in my hands for free. It would be convenient if any time a new book that I want is released I can have it in front of me immediately, without leaving my house.  I’d have storage space for over 1,000 books, which is a lot more than I can fit in my dorm room.

While there’s a definite convenience to ereaders, and I often claim in my classes that they are the future of literature, for now I think I’ll stick to the books I’ve got. There’s a stack of them next my bed propping up my reading lamp, and, well, an ereader just can’t do that.

-Laura Harshberger

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