The debate between E-books and paperbacks rages on. Readers equipped with libraries conveniently stored on their smart phones, iPads, and tablets rally together against traditional bookworms, firmly opposed with physical copies of bestsellers in their work bags. To which side do I belong, you ask?
As a commuter, my messenger bag is already full. It houses my keys, laptop, its battery cables, a mouse, hand-sanitizer, and an assortment of pens – my day job essentials. Occasional rainy weather forces me to carry an umbrella, too. Consequently, a very unwieldy pouch emerges. A packed subway car is the worst place to sport a misshapen bag. It is an added inconvenience to those already enduring a crowded train’s discomfort. Curse the idiot refusing to remove his overstuffed backpack during rush hour. He bangs, bumps, and leans against fellow travelers, many quite grumpy facing another day’s labor. Imagine him twisting and swinging this irritating sledgehammer to pull a paperback from its center. His safety is immediately at risk.
An E-book stored on his phone would slide smoothly out his pocket. No harm done. No manslaughter case to report on the news.
Nevertheless, I enjoy perusing Barnes & Noble for my next literary conquest. If my schedule permits, I even grab a caramel latte from Starbucks and lose myself in a fresh piece of nonfiction. It’s probably my favorite thing to do. But, I also must admit, it’s more of a reconnaissance mission than a hobby. I explore the shelves to find my next Google Playbooks purchase. I preview a book for maybe a few chapters, just enough to decide if it’s worth acquiring, then, either buy it or move on to another option. I call it proactive shopping for a necessity.
Literature helps to endure my two-hour daily commute especially when my Spotify playlists turn dull. Even the most extensive musical variety goes bland when working full-time data entry. I sit from 9-5 all week with headphones blaring as I type court case information into spreadsheets. But, the record industry just doesn’t churn out music fast enough to satisfy my needs. By the time my work is complete, I’m genuinely sick of every available selection. Reading is all that’s left to get me home.
Yes, handling a book has its aesthetic qualities. The read is certainly enhanced by the fabric of the pages, the images on the front and back covers, that unique smell of printed ink on book paper. It’s all a part of the package. You recall these characteristics as much as the story. I get it.
Still, the publications I’ve purchased from bookstores, however much I love them, sit around my home gathering dust. Revisiting my copy of The 50th Law means grabbing a wet napkin and dirtying my pajamas. Not quite an appealing late-night activity once the uncontrollable sneezing starts. Instead, I reach for my Samsung Galaxy S III and neatly continue the next chapter.
My accommodating, allergy-free heaven.
God bless technology.
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