Audio Books vs. Kindles/Nooks vs. Book Books
It’s nothing if not an unfair match-up. Unprecedented even. The versus tag might be better left off, but so be it.
Let’s begin at the reverse with ‘BOOK BOOKS’
I’m not a “book whore.” And that last is not my term. A terribly talented young lady, who I knew for the better part of my time at University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), declared that she was to a book club group I attended. No one batted an eyelash–not professors or students, and so I pretended I understood how someone got to be that way.
I’ve loved books for a lifetime, maybe even from the womb. A personal marker: my Auntie D taking me to the library in New York to get my first library card. After that, I was hemmed up like un-expectant mothers during their 6-week reprieve. Done in. Caught up again.
I am a hoarder of books. I have slept with books. Unlike the selfsame shoe habit, the former happens by accident, since I maintain a revolving stack of books by my bedside, all demanding attention before sleep claims me. I don’t happen to care whether there is a cover, or if there are pages that I have to attach and reattach again and again. The fact is: It’s love and I have already made the firm decision to treasure it.
Anaïs Nin might be mortified if she saw the state of A Spy in the House of Love. I’ve read and reread it too many times to count, but it was in awful shape when I got it and it remains well loved among the living and most treasured.
Which brings me to a point that I find strange: I do not love or enjoy the smell of books. There is nothing appealing about a new or old book smell.
I do not sniff my books. They serve a more tactile function. I like the feel of books. As a child, I liked to read up-close and then drag my index finger under each line when the mood struck. I do this even as now as an adult book lover. My smudged fingerprints here and there could probably tell their own story.
What of an aural buzz via audio books?
I’ve listened to one audio book in my life—Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship & Creativity as a Lifestyle. I considered it an achievement, although it was not something, that I would necessarily revisit or attempt to curl up with.
Having curled up and fallen asleep to music in my ears, I’m wondering what gives here. I don’t dislike audio books, but there is simply no love to be lost or found here. I would and have quickly passed that section in my local library and bookstore again and again. Even for the challenge and pleasure of listening to the whole KJV, I promise you there is still little to no appeal.
Honestly, I think it comes down to intertexuality or this idea of having an ongoing conversation with the author(s) and the words on the page–without the obvious filter of a third party voice.
Would my opinion be different if it were recorded in the author’s voice? Probably not, as he/she would still feel like an intrusion on that “imaginary” conversation or on any flights of fancy my imagination would like to take.
What’s with the New Media demands by the Kindles and Nooks…?
The Kindles and Nooks have come courting. And they’re good. Persistent. Can’t turn on my life, or a corner without being reminded about how accessible the wide world of publishing has become. And I pause here to give my due respect, because that last fact of access is much the same reason I appreciate the very existence of the paperback novel.
Someone even went to the trouble to make it more permissible and advantageous to enjoy your New Media without any loss of that (essential) book smell.
I won’t pretend at this point. Sometimes I want to jump into this New Media lovefest, head first, with my eyes wide shut. However, there is almost always the lingering friction of cost vs. emotional value vs. purist tendencies vs. whatever I please.
Right now I am reminding myself that one technological gain doesn’t necessarily create loss or premeditate loss. But it is so easy to forget. Perhaps that is why even as I write I am longing for the Strand, or that bookstore off Strand Street, or even the guy with the foldaway table on 68th and Lex where I bought the mustiest (I didn’t have to smell it to know) Hemingway known to man or woman.
I am a book worm and even a bit (more) of a bibliophile.
Someone once said the words to me: ‘I need to feel your weight on me.’ Pregnable moment there. I’m a little sheepish now in memory, but I like the implication of those words and they fit here. I need to feel the weight of words bound up in a “book book,” and I need that weight to be felt through these fingers and in these hands.
Do you have a favorite medium or memory of reading?