Read, and Smell Your Experience

iPads. iPhones. Kindles. E-Book readers. Torrents sites.

Modern technology such as these have made carrying books around as simple as carrying a single notebook. These innovations have managed to squeeze hundreds — or maybe even thousands — of books into a chip as small as your thumbnail Or maybe something even smaller.

And for good reason. Compare the weight of a single novel to the weight of a Kindle. The paperback probably weighs as much — if not more — than the Kindle, but the popular e-book reader can hold hundreds of titles in it. Convenience. When nanotechnology is slowly gripping the world we live in, everything must be smaller, quicker, faster, more convenient to carry around.

Not only is it more convenient in terms of weight, but also financially. I have a friend, an avid reader as well, who bought a Kindle. She said she spent over 3,000 pesos on books recently in such a short amount of time. She decided to buy a Kindle since it costs about as much as she spent on the books she bought. Plus with a Kindle, she can just download titles online. Unlimited. Free.

Nothing against her. She was being resourceful.

But I’m not treading that path. It’s not my thing. For me, the convenience of having an e-book reader kills the reading experience. I have a pretty bad memory. Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of a novel, I would forget some details and so I would go back a few pages — sometimes a few chapters. And I could easily do this by flipping the pages back, something absent from these technological innovations, where you have to press this, go there, click that, enter this, et cetera, before going back to a particular page.

Having a tangible reading material also enables me to view two faraway pages side-by-side at the same time. If page 12 is directly related to page 224, no sweat. I’ll use my left hand to hold it open and my right to hold the pages in between, then proceed to reading.

There are various other things you can do with the real thing which you can’t with the virtual one. No bookmark? Fold the top corner of the page. Found a quotable quote? Underline it, or highlight it using a highlighter (well, this can be done if you want to write on your iPad’s or your Kindle’s screen). Your favorite author visits the country? Have him or her sign inside the front cover, or wherever in the book. Want to dedicate a book to someone? Write a note on the title page.

These are things you can’t do with an e-book. And these are precisely the things which make books special. Never mind the story that you get, or the entertainment which can be had. An e-book can give these to you. But those mentioned above? No, they can’t.

Oh, and one last thing. Take the 3 or 4 books nearest to you, hold them close to your nose, ruffle the pages and smell them. They won’t smell the same. Try it. Fight Club smells different from SuperPanalo Sounds! smells different from The Hobbit smells different from The Best Of This Is A Crazy Planets.

Because each experience will be different. What you do with one will not be what you do with the other. What happens around you reading one may not be the same events that happen when you read the other. Just like how each book smells different, each experience will also be unique.

And that smell is something  absent from e-books.

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