The Thrill of the Find: Weighing the Problem With E-Books

by: Katie Vota

E-readers are popular, no question.  They’re all over the US and, having been traveling for 10 months now.  I can tell you they’re all over South America as well.  Had you met me a year ago, you would’ve said I’d be the last person to have one of these electronic book gadgets.  I love books too much.  Hell, I make books—sketchbooks, artist books, books with ancient hand-sewn bindings.  And yet, knowing I’d be off in a country with unknown availability for books in English (because it’s not just books, but the reading of them that’s important) I did my research and bought a Nook.  One of the last black & white versions with an all-purpose touch screen.  I love my nook—If anything I read more because I have it.  It’s so convenient to have a library at my fingertips.  I finish a book, browse my inventory of 40-50 books, and choose another that suits my mood right that second, and then I just keep reading.  Best thing ever, right?

Well, yes and no.  I feel like the convenience of the thing makes reading more accessible.  Technophiles love it because it’s electronic, and they can have the latest fancy color readers that act as tablets and get great internet access.  Libraries have picked up on the love, and now lend you e-books (how novel). There are plenty of free e-books online for people who can’t get to libraries or can’t purchase books.  And, with the price of books not going down, in theory, authors should be making more money on their work (since there are no printing costs to consider).

Not seeing the drawbacks yet?  What about the loss of the experience of holding a book in your hands, feeling its weight, the texture of its cover, turning its pages, and that new book smell (or musty book smell for that matter)?  What about books with pictures?  What about supporting used bookstores, new-book bookstores that aren’t Barnes & Noble, and the thrill of the find?  The whole industry is changing and I’m not yet sure it’s for the better.

Or this:  Have you ever had a real book quit on you in the middle, refusing to turn past page 120?  No, I haven’t either.

Katie Vota is a textile & paper artist, Fulbright Scholar, and short queer person.  She has a BFA in Fiber from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and since graduation, has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally.  Vota is a PR Assistant and designer by day, and in her free time she dances salsa (so much salsa), travels, makes art, and writes articles for various small publications.  She is also preoccupied with her upcoming installation at the Krasl Art Center’s ArtLab space in St. Joseph, MI, which opens July 27th.

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2 responses to “The Thrill of the Find: Weighing the Problem With E-Books

  1. You’re right. Lately I’ve been reading thru my kindle. It’s amazing how you can handle a library of books through that weightless little gadget. By computing the cost of the books contained in my kindle, I feel like a millionaire. However, it feels like I miss the good ol’ days where I smell the aroma of the new and old books, and flip book pages while drinking hot tea.

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