A feeling technology can’t replace: holding a book

I tend to do all of my major reading over the summer, primarily because of travel. Flying alone has made me realize I must have been one of those babies who would sleep peacefully only after a car ride. But, in the rare circumstances I manage to stay awake for an entire trip, the long interval aboar…I tend to do all of my major reading over the summer, primarily because of travel. Flying alone has made me realize I must have been one of those babies who would sleep peacefully only after a car ride. But, in the rare circumstances I manage to stay awake for an entire trip, the long interval aboard a plane provides a block of empty time that’s great for concentrating on something.

Saturday was one of those trips I devoted to reading. I started a book while waiting at the airport and couldn’t wait to continue after boarding. The plane, once I was on, was full of reading people—a refreshing sight from seeing 30 laptops instead of books while studying at Paradiso last week. I managed to grab a seat right next to one of my fellow readers, but I forsook our bond immediately when I realized he was reading on a Kindle.

I know what you’re thinking. I sound like every old curmudgeonly literature professor, every person in the quickly-dying publishing industry, and every devoted librarian. Suffice it to say I’m an English major and I’ve considered creating a scent line based on the aroma of old books.

That said, I just cannot get over my deep and perhaps slightly irrational hatred of Amazon’s Kindle device. Yes, I know it has an e-paper display. I know the new Kindle DX will have enough space for approximately 1500 titles. I know the publishing industry will have to work with downloadable content in the same way the music industry should have in the first place.

There’s just something about the feeling of a book in your hands, something about the reality of owning the physical object that feels right. I know many readers don’t care about autographed copies or seeing their own hand-scribbled notes in the margins. But as the guys from Penny Arcade pointed out so well in their March 9 comic, books are already the most progressive book technology out there: they’re completely wireless and don’t need charging. They won’t break if you drop them. You don’t have to worry about people stealing them for sheer monetary value.

Back to the story. I sat next to this Kindle-using gentleman and got situated, shoving my backpack underneath the seat in front of me and resting my real book in my lap. I opened my book to continue reading and found that not only had he taken the armrest, but his elbow was leaning out beyond it.

Since I couldn’t read without pulling my elbows in next to my ribs, I watched as our flight attendant gave the plane safety presentation and began walking through the cabin to make sure everyone had their chairs in the full upright position and that all portable electronic devices were turned off. She paused at our row.

“Sir, if that has an off switch, it needs to be turned off and put away,” she instructed.

I smiled to myself as I opened up my book and resumed reading.

Chelsea is a senior.