When is a book not a book?
No, it’s not a riddle.
I admit to being a recent convert to ebooks. Before I went on a trip in the summer, I bought a Kobo and loaded it up. Catching up in reading was part of the vacation plan and I can read a lot when I have a good chunk of time to devote to it. It made a lot more sense to carry a small electronic device than a suitcase full of books.
While I was home, I was able to meet up with an old friend from my university days, who is now an academic and professor and we got into a discussion about books and my recent conversion. Her sister used to run a very hip and eclectic bookstore. While we were talking, I managed to articulate my position for the first time.
I love books. I love them as physical manifestations of ideas. I love the feel of them in my hands and the look of them on my shelf, knowing I can pick up one of my favourites and read it any time.
But a book, to me, is more than pages or paper or leather binding. As much as I love books, I love stories more. To me, a book is a vehicle for a story. What matters to me most are the words, the characters; where the writer takes me. The narrative means more to me than the fact that is printed on paper and bound in a leather cover.
I believe the ideas are what matter, not the form.
There are good stories in books, on audio, in ebooks, on TV and in theatres.
I respect anyone who loves books, and yes, I admit to being vaguely distrustful of anyone who doesn’t read. I was raised with books and can’t understand how anyone couldn’t love them.
But, again, it’s the stories and ideas that mean the most to me, not the format. If you presented me with an amazing story on a papyrus scroll, I’d be down with that.
I love my Kobo and the convenience that it brings me. I love that I can stick it in my bag and read on my lunch at work or on the streetcar to and from. I like that it’s a light, convenient way for me to carry around ideas and stories. I especially like that when I am close to the end of one book, I don’t have to carry a second one to start when I’m done.
And, as a writer, in pure, unadulterated self interest, I’m glad that there are more ways that I can get my stories out there to be read.