The 1953 Ray Bradbury novel, Fahrenheit 451,depicts a future American society where books are outlawed and those that are found are destroyed by fire via that society’s “firemen.” The premise of the novel has been described as representing the suppression of dissenting ideas from those deemed correct and appropriate: censorship at its worst. This blog entry is not about censorship; it is about the possibility of losing the tactile, hard or soft cover media that has entertained billions of us over the years: the non-electronic book.
I crave books and I am never without a selection from which to choose,
but maybe the vehicle by which I read books – and that so immediately satisfies my hunger for more books – will bring about the demise of the tactile tome.
I’m talking about e-readers.
From June 3, 2010 through June 8, 2014, I have spent just under $3,000 on e-books. If that shocks you, imagine how I feel seeing that number because I have to admit it doesn’t feel like thousands of dollars when I download a new book in less than a minute. I purchased books now and then prior to purchasing my first e-reader four years ago, but most of my reading addiction was satisfied compliments of the local library system.
Caveat: I can justify a certain percentage of my e-book purchases by telling you that quite a bit of the research I perform for my writing career comes from fiction and non-fiction works that focus on aging – most specifically on Alzheimer’s and other dementia. But even I will admit that it’s a very small percentage.
I would gladly give up my e-reader if doing so saves soft and hard cover books.
One of my family members stopped using his e-reader; he lost the passion for reading – or more accurately – he found it difficult to find a book he could dive into. He kept going from book to book and nothing he read captured his attention. He had a light bulb moment, however, when he discerned that the content he was reading was not lacking, it was the electronic apparatus that was at fault. I’m not parting with my e-reader yet, but the anxiety I have been feeling the past couple months haunts me each time I pick up my e-reader and swipe the page from right to left, instead of lifting the top right corner of the page and laying it down on the left.
Sarah Jio’s most recent novel, Goodnight June, hints at what has already occurred and might very well occur completely: an absence of book stores and readers to keep them in business. Another voiced concern in Goodnight June is that the childhood love of reading is waning.
What do you see children doing when they have free time? Do they pick up a book like so many of us did when we were their age or are they cozying up on the couch with an electronic device?
Is it just me? What are your thoughts?