09 August 2012

On the Demise of the Paper Book

We’re losing books these days. Everything’s converting to digital. Sales between hard copies and ebooks are just about even. And ebooks will continue to gain ground. A lot of people resist this. They say they’ll never convert, and they give reasons why. “I love the smell of the pages.” That’s a big one. I do too. When your pillow presses around your head, and you let the book drop over your face, not because you’ve fallen asleep but because you’re about to. Or “I love the weight of the pages in my hand, and how I can feel how much I’ve read and how far I have to go.” Me too. There’s no replacing a tactile measurement like that. The Kindle’s “68%” will never fully measure up. For me though, the thing I’ll miss the most, is the texture, how you can see the t pressed onto the microfibers, or how a sheet that misfed into the machinery has a subtle, flat crease pressed into it that jogs in a diagonal behind the paragraphs, or how, when you hold the top of the page toward an open window on a Thursday morning, you can see a million little dimples in the surface.