On Why I Still Prefer Traditional Books to eBooks

I’ve been using a Kindle for a long time now, and I love it. But I keep buying paper books. Lots of them. Actually I buy a _lot_ more books than ebooks and it doesn’t even stop there. Admittedly, I am guilty of repeatedly buying paper editions of ebooks I’ve read on the Kindle.

For a very long time I’ve not been able to tell the precise reason why I keep going back to traditional books. It’s not about the reading experience or the sexiness of turning physical pages. Well of course that matters too, as I’ve always been kind of a book fetishist, but since the very beginning of my love-hate relationship with the Kindle I’ve always known there had to be something else, and I couldn’t pin it down.

Then yesterday it finally struck me. I was visiting the awesome Silent Books exhibition with the kids, and there was this Suzy Lee quote pinned on the wall, and I couldn’t stop reading it over and over.

In turning the pages of a book,

a little world opens and closes,

enclosed in a frame.

Story ends, the book closes.

The world closes too.

Then it’s quickly placed on a shelf.

Art can be placed on a shelf.

Shelf-sized art.

Isn’t that beautiful? (*)

So yes, it’s about the shelves. It’s about surrounding myself with those little worlds I’ve been exploring. I suddenly realized that several times every day, while I’m furiously coding or when I’m just walking around the house or heck, even while I’m reading a book, each day my eyes like to indulge on those shelves, the vivid memories of my reading experiences. That’s something the files stored on my precious little Kindle can’t offer me.

That also explains why I only tend to buy what I call ‘throw away’ books on the Kindle. These aren’t necessarily bad books (or I wouldn’t buy them in the first place). They are mostly leisure readings, you know, thrillers and the like: something that’s entertaining to read but it isn’t likely to leave me with a long lasting memory, or emotion.

(*) turns out the Border Trilogy, Suzy Lee’s book from which the quote_ is taken, has not been published in english, which is a shame. This is a (probably poor) translation of mine.