I’m not quite sure when the trend of virtualizing became so popular. Maybe it was the 90s when everyone wanted a virtual pet in a convenient little egg shaped container that they could clip to their belt. I’m guilty of this. I had a tamogatchi (or maybe it was a giga pet, whatever) for about a week before it wouldn’t stop barking at me in the middle of the night to feed it and I abandoned it in the Douglass Elementary school cafeteria. Call it a case of sour grapes, but I have never really been on board with a lot of these virtual trends since then. I will always opt to get hard tickets to concerts and movies, even if it costs extra. I like having paper tickets to get on an airplane. I will admit that I would never trade my iPod in for my old discman and 50 sleeve case logic though. Slow clap for the inventor of the mp3 player. That is one trend I am completely on board with. The one virtual trend that breaks my heart the most though is e-readers. Why do I hate e-readers? Here are my five top reasons.
1. I can’t see what you’re reading
Do people still use the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover”? I hope not because let’s face it, it really isn’t that relevant. Everyone judges books by their cover. That is why publishers put so much thought into cover art. If no one judged a book by its cover they would all be a neutral shade of ecru with a Times New Roman title typed neatly in the center. And do you know what people do more than judge books by their covers? Judge people by what they are reading. I love checking out what people are reading around me. On an airplane, on a train, on campus. Everywhere. You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to read in public. But e-readers completely take this away from us. You could be sitting on an airplane next to me reading 50 Shades of Grey (which would cue me to put on my headphones and pretend to sleep the whole flight) but I will never know because you are using an e-reader. You could also be reading High Fidelity and I would bounce up and down in my seat with excitement knowing I was seated next to the coolest person ever. E-readers make it impossible to tell if you need to be worried about or content with the people surrounding you. They take away a level of defense. E-readers are dangerous.
2. You can carry way more books than I can
For about two months in the 8th grade I carried around the complete works of the Bronte’s and the complete works of Shakespeare, both hardcover, in my backpack at all times. I don’t know why I did this. Do you know how big those books are? They probably weighed more than I did. However, I was thirteen and incredibly bookish and nerdy. I thought I would have some sort of mad street cred but none of my peers were really into that sort of thing so my back and brain just hurt for two months and then I had to return them. I didn’t even get to finish both of them. Still to this day however I always have at least one book (usually three) with me at all times. You just never know when you are going to have to wait for someone, or get stranded or something that would require you to have something to do to kill time. With an e-reader you can carry an entire library of books and it would still only have a cumulative weight of a double cheeseburger. This is incredibly unfair. I should see this as an upside to e-readers, but all it does is make me bitter.
3. You can’t turn the page
Call me old fashioned, but I like holding an actual book. I like walking into a bookstore and seeing shelves and shelves of books in front of me. I like cracking spines. I like smelling the pages. I like underlining and writing notes in the margins. I like sharing books with others. With an e-reader you can’t really do any of these things. And I simply don’t want to hear that you “get used to hitting the button and it is kind of like turning the page” or how you can make comments electronically or whatever. It isn’t the same. End of discussion.
4. You can’t brag about your book collection
You know that part in Anchorman when Ron Burgundy talks about all the leather bound books he has and immediately everyone is like “oh yeah. This guy it totally legit. He has lots of books. They are bound in leather. He must know all there is to know about people, places and things!” Well that line would have been much less effective (not to mention factually inaccurate) if he had said “I have many books on my kindle. They smell of whatever I used to clean the screen this morning.” Having a list of books on an e-reader is not as cool as having book shelves that are buckling under the weight of all the wonder they hold. When people walk into your house and see a full bookshelf, they know you are not to be messed with. No one is impressed by all the books you downloaded onto your kindle. Mainly because no one will see them unless you are bragging about them and no one likes that either.
5. Maurice Sendak hated your e-reader
Face it, if one of the men that defined your childhood hates them, you should hate them too.