Do We Still Need Books?

Recently I've been hunting for a new apartment, and while measuring walls to see if my bookcase will fit, I have asked myself a terrifying question: In this day and age, with the internet and Kindles and Nooks and iPads and ebooks, do I still need a bookcase? Do we still need books?

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I grew up loving books. I learned to read at an early age (according to my mother), and my copies of Eloise and Snow White were loveworn, with broken bindings and Oreo cookie smears on the pages. I grew up in a house full of books — both of my parents loved to read — and more than once, I wrote a school paper without going to the library — just using the volumes in our home, which included philosophy, biography, history, classic literature, mythology, biology, medical texts and juicy stuff like Scruples.

Illustration for article titled Do We Still Need Books?

The mere presence of books implies knowing, worldliness, intellect, romance, possibility. Beauty and the Beast returns to the big screen tomorrow (this time in 3D) and as we all know, the pivotal moment — when you know their love is real — is when the Beast gives Belle a glorious library full of books. The train station bookstore in Martin Scorsese's Hugo is similarly wonderful — towering stacks of dusty tomes holding secrets and mysteries. (It was kind of bittersweet to read the set designer say that some of them were fake, made from fiberglass.) One of my favorite decor blogs, iSuwannee, regularly features a bookcase of the day.

But on the subway, more and more folks are toting e-readers. Borders closed up shops last year and we keep hearing about school libraries being turned into "media centers" with fewer books and more computers. I want to believe that there is no replacement for a book. The smell, the texture of the pages, the heft. I took two books on vacation with me — one of which was a hardcover — and finished them both, never worrying about them being exposed to a full day of sand and sun, the way I might with an electronic device. There is a warmth and a softness and a crafty quality found in printed matter that you'll never get from a cold electronic screen. (Or hot, thigh-burning laptop). Humans have used paper since Ancient Egypt and I think somewhere in our lizard brains we recognize it as natural and friendly. Still, I wonder: Is my love of books like someone else's love of the rotary phone? Or vinyl albums? Someday soon, will having a bookcase be as absurd as having a shelving unit that holds cassette tapes? I hope not. And yesterday, when I saw the video above — made by Sean Ohlenkamp and his wife — I realized I'm not the only one who thinks there's nothing quite like a real book.

Will Dance for Readers: Paper Books Have Life in Them Yet [AdWeek]

DISCUSSION

skitzo2372
Mrs. Who

I love books. I'll say it again, I LOVE books. The Beauty and The Beast scene is my sister and mine's favorite Disney scene of all time. For Christmas this past year, I recieved 3 books from my sister, all the next succession in 3 of the propably 8-10 series I'm currently reading, and TGWTDT trilogy along with a short biography on Steig Larsson, all in hard back from Mr Who-to-be. My daughter has more books than she does toys and that is a lot of books, I promise you. Mr Who-to-be has more books than I do but I am steadily catching up.

I remember that I literally squealed with delight when I saw that the apartment we are in now had a built in bookshelf. That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

Many friends have threatened to get me a Kindle or Nook or whatever. Yea, threatened. It's because I always have a book. I'll be hanging out for the day and they will need to do something and come back and I have a book in hand. But I really don't want any e-reader because I love the feel of the book in my hand.

If I traveled a lot, like my friend who owns an e-reader and works two weeks in Wyoming then comes back home for two weeks in Texas, I'd get one. Also if I moved a lot. But I don't do either and don't see the point in owning something I have no need for.

Also I have a dream to build that Beauty and The Beast library. It'll happen one day :)