It’s dawning on Josh Marshall and a lot of book readers. The Kindle, which is many books packed behind one portable electronic screen, may reshape our lives:
I’ve always been an inveterate collector of books. Not in the sense of collectibles, but in the sense that once I buy a book, I never let it go. As I made my way through adulthood it was while dragging a tail of several hundred books along with me.
Finally, only a few months ago, I purged a decent chunk of my collection. And most are now in storage. But in our living room we have two big inset shelves where I keep all the books I feel like I need or want ready at hand. And last night, sitting in front of them, I had this dark epiphany. How much longer are these things going to be around? Not my books, though maybe them too. But just books. Physical, paper books. The few hundred or so I was looking at suddenly seemed like they were taking up an awful lot of space, like the whole business could dealt with a lot more cleanly and efficiently, if at some moral loss.
A joy lost? Books are our friends. If they aren’t on paper, bound in a lovely cover, are they the same? Must they take our living space to really belong to us? It seems to matter, but it’s hard to explain why.
Maybe it is the sense that each book in print is a tangible link to the author, or a memento of the days we first read it, or a thoughtful gift, or a work of art, and now we may lose that. Or maybe it is the subtle horror that we may never again feel the joy of turning a real page.