The Tangibility of Books

As any good or “classic” bibliophile can affirm, there are few sensations that compare to holding an actual book. With the advent of e-readers, kindles, and e-books, however, the fate of the printed book is looking slightly grim. There have been many reports over the past few years about different schools completely digitizing their libraries, in efforts both to save money and space, as well as being more environmentally friendly. In addition, more and more people are purchasing e-readers because of their ability to hold hundreds of different books, with a fraction of the weight of the tangible books.  I must admit that I cannot argue with a lot of the logic behind these choices, but they do make me sad.

As an avid book collector, it is hard for me to understand how people can love reading off of screens. I struggle to even read shorter articles off of a phone or computer, and can’t even attempt to read longer pieces of work. My eyes simply can’t focus on a screen for that long. Even though many e-readers are now designed to look as similar to a page as possible, with low light settings that won’t irritate the eyes, I still like real books more.

It’s hard to describe the delight that I feel when I have an actual book, but the heft and weight of it are exciting — they show how much information you have to gain from reading it! You can’t ascertain that from a thin little e-reader. Holding an actual book also makes it feel like you are making a real connection with it, like it is a friend or a partner who you are intensely involved with for a short amount of time (if the book is really good and you can’t put it down, that is), or even a friend who you see from time to time (if it’s the sort of book that you take breaks from and come back to every once in a while).

With this precedent, I hope readers who don’t feel as strong a pull towards physical books can imagine how wonderfully overwhelming book stores and libraries are for the classic bibliophile. It’s unlike anything else! Walking into a nice little bookstore, or even an enormous commercialized bookstore, is like finding nirvana for a ravenous book lover.

Not everyone will feel this way, mind you, but book lovers can always recognize each other; they are the ones who can spend hours wandering around bookstores or libraries, their arms laden down by their findings, and can’t bring themselves to leave until absolutely necessary.

However, despite their love of the physicality of books, bibliophiles are also infiltrating the internet! With sources such as Goodreads, which allows readers to rate their books and keep track of books they have read, are reading, or want to read, or even online forums such as tumblr and pinterest where readers can have discussions or see lots of beautiful pictures, book lovers are taking to the world wide web. Recently, I discovered an article from a website called Loner Wolf, which features pictures of beautiful libraries that book lovers and introverts alike can enjoy! The article can be found here:

The article is a glorified hay day for book lovers, depicting 24 libraries around the world that anyone would want to read in.

Here’s a little taste:

For all you book lovers reading this, I’m sure you are experiencing minor heart palpitations at these images, as well as a burning desire to find these libraries as soon as possible. The feeling is mutual. Until then, the public library and local bookshops will appease me just fine, as long as there are shelves upon shelves of books.

-Hadley Gibson


1 Comment

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One response to “The Tangibility of Books

  1. Demiurgent

    Excellently written, Hadley. Though you understand, I trust, that I’m tempted to write a rebuttal from the digitiaphile point of view…

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