By Andy Goff.
I’ve never even seen a Kindle or other e-book reader let alone sniffed one. I suspect that they all smell the same; plasticy and with a hint of metallic tang, perhaps? Possibly they whiff of nothing more than the soap used to wash the hand that holds them to the curious nose.
The adverts say you can read them in strong sunlight and that the batteries that power them will last, oh, a good few hours.
Every e-book reader will feel the same regardless of what the person reading is, actually, reading.
But reading a book isn’t just about the words. Reading a book is an experience that can ignite senses other than just sight.
I have books on my bookshelf that have tatty covers from being overly handled. Books that have notes in – having been gifted; Birthday or Christmas wishes from long gone relatives, scribbles from enthusiastic children first learning to put crayons to paper in inappropriate places. Books that drop bits of paper – bookmarks made from old receipts, notes or even petals, press-ganged into performing a lasting service as reminders.
I want to open a book and see it was given as a present by my parents to my brother in 1952 – perhaps I should return it – or that the author has signed it with an added homily.
I’m guessing, as I can’t know, that if you inadvertently sit on a Kindle it will break – goodbye £100. If you sit on a book it won’t. Admittedly if you drop either in water they lose their functionality but a book can be dried out. Will a Kindle-like device restore its own circuitry?
Then there’s that olfactory sensation. Books smell nice. Especially old books that have lingered on dusty shelves, unloved until rediscovered. A musty smell of times gone by, steeped in the DNA of the hands of their history. Who would care what fingerprints linger on an e-book? But who couldn’t care that a book has been resting in the hands of many appreciative but perhaps unknown bibliophiles?
And when times are hard and fuel is scarce I can burn them for a little warmth without being overcome by the toxins pumped out by burning plastic.
So, I shall stick to real books and eschew the convenience of carrying multiple tomes in one easy-to-use, battery powered, hand-held device. I might buy over the internet but I shall want the real thing delivered through my door – and revel in the smell of a good, new book.