“I still buy actual books. The smell, having it in your hands – there’s really no substitute.”
Before I found this quote, I thought I was the only one in the world who made a big deal about how an old book smells. I do collect older hardback books, mostly history, biographies and some sci-fi and historical fiction. I also like books on old style crafts and ways of living.
Sure, I have a Kindle. I read books and listen to podcasts on it. Really cool and convenient, and I love it. Why then should I even waste the time and effort on real books when I can store hundreds of books on one device the size of one paperback book?
I have two basic reasons to keep old fashioned books around, (besides the smell).
The first is because the power can go off. If you have a power outage, there is no TV, Internet, video games and sometimes even phone service can be down. We have short power outages several times a year where I live, but what would happen if a 9/11 style terrorist attack happened? If several of the power plants were targeted simultaneously, the entire grid could be down for weeks. Books would come in handy for entertainment, and now we get to the reason why some of those old time lifestyle skills might eventually come in handy.
The last generation that knows about these things is rapidly passing away, and our generation’s reliance on electronics alone could place us in an awkward position in the event of a major emergency.
Now, I can hear some of you saying this could never happen. I must be one of those wild-eyed preppers or something. Actually there is a major difference in stockpiling massive amounts of food, water and other supplies, and then just keeping a few cool and decorative books around that make you look rather smart when your friends see them. The electronics we rely on everyday are great, but could be completely unavailable in the blink of an eye. Think about it.
Reason 2. I like eye witness accounts to history in hardback because real books are static. They can’t be changed on the whim of political or religious authorities who suddenly don’t want common citizens to have the information contained therein. This has happened many times down through history, even in so-called free societies. Look up McCarthyism to see what happened in America as recently as the 1950s. At that time the U.S. State Department ordered its overseas library program to remove from their shelves “material by any controversial persons, communists, fellow travelers, etc.” ‘Fellow travelers’ was a term used for those who weren’t actually members of the Communist party, but were considered by the government to be in sympathy with them. That casts a pretty wide net. Some of these books were actually burned, just like in the good old days.
Hopefully it will never get this bad again, but you can never tell.
Oh, by the way, its possible for one to write a book, sell it in the Kindle store, and revise the book as many times as I want, updating the thousands of Kindles in use each time. I remember once Amazon sucking out a few books I had in my Kindle and my library, giving me a refund, but still taking the books without my consent. Kind of feels like we aren’t in control of what we are reading anymore, doesn’t it?
I fear this could be used by our government as soon as they decide to strong-arm Amazon, the same way they did Microsoft and Facebook to get our personal information. Telling people how they should live is what governments do. Just like backing up your electronic media on your computer, a hard copy backup in book form is a good idea.
Looking intelligent to your friends can’t hurt either.