With everyone using Kindles or Nooks or whatever, I think too many people have forgotten that actual paper-books are so much more than just the written word. E-readers cannot compete. Yes, you can have a dozen digital copies, but how can that compare? Allow me to demonstrate.
First, set yourself up. A soft light from a lamp or candle; a cup of coffee or tea, comfy pillows all around. Then seek a real book -hardback or paperback- and close your eyes. Let your fingers run over the face lightly, caressing first the front and then the back.
Is it embossed with textures, the jumble of a woven cloth, or is it silky smooth? Can you feel the thrill of something unknown, waiting to be discovered? Let you hands wander over it, feeling it, knowing it in all the glory that is there.
Now, open it to random page -eyes still closed- and slowly bring it to your nose. Can you smell the faint hint of vanilla? The acrid bite of new ink? Or has it been read so much the odour of human fingers, the musk and salt-tang of sweat and human presence, gently touches your nose?
Open your eyes. Look. The cover hold the title. What does it say to you? The colours and images, bright and vivid: let them speak to a primordial part of yourself; the innermost part of your imagination bringing the contents to life. Even before you have devoured the first word.
Run your fingers down a page. Is it fresh and crisp, new and exciting, just waiting for you to begin devouring the promise on each sheet? Does it hold the thrill of a gentle cut -not noticed until the sting reaches your brain- or has the paper been touched by so many hands it is now soft and malleable.
Can you feel the crisp fibers in each page, or do they bend like a new petal under your seeking fingers?
Open your eyes and let the contrast of that first word, the blackness stark against the background, fill your sight. Take in each word, knowing your nose and hands can register the warmth of the pages. Luminescence comes from beside you, not the harsh, unfeeling burn of digitised pixels.
As you read each word, the tickle in your nose of the pages, tea, and the room around you draw you into a new world. Your fingers grasp the top of the paper, moving ever so slightly up and down, waiting, wanting to move, but you are held in place until you reach the bottom, every word taking you deeper and deeper into realms unknown before. Take a second to sip your beverage, knowing that those crisp or well loved bits of paper are waiting for you. Printed words, so subtle in seduction, are patient and waiting for you.
You find your fingers again at the corner of the page, your mind open, your breath mellow, until at last, you can see the final word -there, beckoning you. Your senses filled, you brain awash in new sights, new imaginations, you wait. Savour that moment, the feel of the sacrifice of trees and ink, the vision bright in your mind, until at last……
You turn the page.