Where would we be without these paperback companions? I’m not sure, except I know that we’d all be very bored on planes, trains, buses, boats and any other transport method you can think of, not to mention the inevitable wait for them to arrive, the delays that always come with travel and then when you get to your destination when you decide to have a lazy day to recover so decide to chill out in the sun, and what’s better than soaking up the rays with a good book in your hand? Very little, which is why millions of people fantasize about it on a daily basis while running in the monotonous and tedious rat race or crammed behind their desk drinking the dregs of their coffee which has long since gone cold, dreaming of the days where they get up early not to rush to the office but to the pool or beach to get the best spot before the towel claimers have their pick!
Books seemed one thing in life that were safe from the advance of technology, but then electronic tablets arrived and the kindle and other such devices that put the future of our paperback friends in doubt. I am no luddite, in fact I love technology and I know that it makes life considerably better, and certainly easier, but I do wonder whether there is a need to modernise the humble book. There are certainly advantages, if you want to read a book or are recommended one by a friend you don’t have to scour the book shops or if you buy it online even have to wait for it to arrive, it is there instantly on your device. If you can’t decide what book to take on holiday or want to take a few you don’t have to lug around several kilos worth of books, you can literally carry thousands of titles in one device that weighs less than an average paperback.
However there are obvious flaws with kindles, and other such devices. Power being the greatest as you can only read your book while the device has battery remaining. When I go to the beach I don’t take much as when I go in the sea I don’t want it to get stolen, so would I really want to take an expensive device that could easily get taken while I was having a dip in the sea. And while on the beach, the sand will inevitably whips up and gets everywhere (and I mean everywhere) and surely this will have a detrimental effect on any electronic device. So you play safe and stay around the pool where there is no sand and you never have to be further than 30 feet away from your electronics, well I can’t remember a time when I haven’t got my book wet while relaxing by the side of the pool, and as we all know electronics and water don’t make the best of friends. Do kindles mean the end of the bookshelf and the age old social exercise of sharing books with friends and saying ‘oh you need to read this’ and handing it over, so is it yet another example of how technology is removing the need for personal interaction. But getting past all of these problems, I think the biggest reason that has stopped me investing in a device is the tangibility of books. The feel of a book, the smell of an old book that has been in the family for years, turning the pages as you get into the story, reaching the end of a chapter and wanting to turn that next page to see if the character will survive the explosion or to discover how they get out of yet another desperate situation. Finally, the satisfaction of finishing a book and either proudly displaying it on the book shelf or passing it on to a friend and knowing that they are about to embark on the highs and lows you have just experienced while you seek out the next adventure that the written word can provide, and therefore for now at least I think I’ll stick with my paperback companions.