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So. SO. This was already a huge rant of a post, and it’s become an even bigger one, for when I clicked “save draft” it erased the entire thing. Now I have to recreate all the gems from memory, which is hard because my rants are like spoken word poetry, they just flooow. But I’ll try. Ahem.
The time has come for me to take a stance and pick a clear side. I can no longer leisurely straddle the fence of the e-reader, no longer glance indifferently at my fellow train commuters as they grasp their thin discs of plastic and screen, pouring through the latest Shopaholic book and looking nothing short of brain-dead. My indifference has evolved into open hostility, and now I can vehemently say that I hate e-readers.
This is what happened. I recently found out that this book had been released:
Basic Training is a lovely little novella by Kurt Vonnegut, originally meant to be published under the pen name Mark Harvey, but to no avail while the man was still walking among the living. Boy was I excited to find out I had 20,000 new Vonnegutian word nuggets soon to be at my fingertips.
It was around the time that I realized the book’s existence that I also found out it is ONLY available via electronic copies. I couldn’t believe it. Nobody, NOBODY, loves Vonnegut as much as I do. I have all the same inclinations to shun technology and pace the Hoosier streets alone with my cigarettes and my sad, jaded, patriotic thoughts (I don’t actually smoke, yuck). I spent months, and months and months, researching all things Vonnegut to write a senior thesis in college that basically explains why his books are an instruction manual to life in the 21st century. I wrote a eulogy poem for his death. If anybody deserves to read his posthumous books, IT’S ME. But no, I have to wait around with the best-seller lovers for it to come out in print, if it ever does.
If paper was good enough for Mark Twain, it’s good enough for me, and if anything’s more American than reading a book on an electronic tablet it’s Mark Twain! I don’t care that I would be able to access a thousand books at the touch of a few buttons. When it comes to a relationship with my books, I’m all about monogamy, baby. I take the time to nuance the heck out of a book, love it, and respect it. You should be able to feel a book, wring the spine in your hands when things are going wrong in your world or the book’s world, scribble your mess of thoughts with pen or pencil in the margins. Your book should be water warped from taking baths or doing the dishes with one hand and reading with the other, and at least one of the pages should have a grease stain from last night’s popcorn binge on it. That’s a far cry from, ‘can you not set your drink down so close to my tablet?’ And, perhaps the best thing, is that when I read a book I can smell the pages whenever I want and nothing can beat or replicate that wonderful smell!
I was so excited when I sat down next to a girl yesterday on the Warminster line and she was reading the same copy of Franny and Zooey that I have. Then this morning, somebody else had The Princess Bride–the HARDCOVER! Now that’s a commitment, and less of us should be afraid of it.
E-readers didn’t have to invade my world–we could have lived harmoniously, never having to answer the question, “Paper or plastic?” but rather accepting our differences for just that. But they took it too far and pushed my luke-warm feelings over the edge. Book lovers the world around, stick to papyrus, stay in school, and don’t do E!!