Scratching the itch

Scratching the itch

I recently changed jobs and as a farewell gift from my devastated former workmates, whose lives will no doubt lose some of their lustre without me around, I received two book vouchers (don’t groan, I suggested such nerdery). One was for an independent bookshop and one was for Amazon Kindle.

Actual books and e-books. Old school and new school. That’s me, that’s how I roll. Except while I still covet books, I don’t covet e-books. I read them. With gusto. But they don’t fill me with the same sheer, almost naughty joy that books do. It’s an experience reading a book. I rate paper. The physical feel of a book, its comforting or daunting weight, the fact you can drop it in the bath and it still goes, albeit damply. I grant you the Kindle is an excellent travelling companion and apparently an outstanding way to hide one’s shame if one is reading something one might consider below one, such as mummy porn or Snorting Coke for Dummies.

Kindle books also have the advantage of being available for purchase at all hours of the day without me having to leave the comfort of my bed and its delicious layer of toast crumbs.

However, the fact I can’t actually touch these books is bothering me. The experience feels cheap. I make concessions in e-books for spelling errors and terrible typesetting, as they usually cost less. But, to quote someone’s self-righteous auntie, you get what you pay for.

Such thoughts are what made the trip to the bookstore, versus the virtual trip to Amazon quite different. I care less about covers with e-books – although I am of the opinion that those who self-publish need to remember that less is more when it comes to covers. Just because you own Photoshop doesn’t mean you should use all the options. I own liquor – I don’t mix it all in one glass. That’s just uncouth.

In the bookstore I touched up all the books. I perved and only just managed to stop myself from sniffing the produce. The colours, the paper, the terribly lovely staff – there’s a reason I can’t go in there very often. It’s like crack. And yes, books are getting pricier – but if you care about the book as a whole, real, tangible thing, then it’s worth it.

As Extreme once sang, it’s more than words. It’s the whole package that attracts me. I absorb what my Kindle feeds me, but I have niggles; itches that can’t be scratched by electronica.

While I think words can speak for themselves, they can also be aided and abetted, walked down the aisle and given away to gleeful readers by fitted fonts, toothsome typesetting, just the right amount of white space and paper that practically licks your fingers as you turn the pages.