The subject of this Blog Post is possibly highly controversial, and no doubt I am going to lose a few (lots) of followers after posting it, but right from the start, I have always promised to be honest with you all.
Deep breath, here goes.
I can’t do electronic books. I just can’t.
I know that especially in these challenging times when the amazing and hardworking publicists I talk to have been kind enough to offer electronic versions of their novels without hesitation to help me blog, when it is environmentally a better option, that it seems the sensible and correct choice, but honestly, it’s not for me.
My head tells me that using Netgalley opens up a whole world of bookish possibilities, that right at the click of a button I can ask to read advance copies of hundreds of the newest releases. A whole new library of tantalising choices are mine, just there for the clicking. I can buy an e-book and it can be ready to read on my device in seconds, and yet the very thought of doing it turns me cold.
Believe me when I tell you I’ve tried. I fired up my old Kindle Paperwhite (after spending an hour trying to find the charger!), I have downloaded an e-reader app to all my Devices, and I even briefly re-instated my Netgalley account just for this reason.
I can do this, I thought, the book is exactly the same, it’s just the pages have to be swiped instead of turned, and I can’t use an almond magnum wrapper as a bookmark (might have done this once), but I was telling myself it’s just the same thing in a different format.
The thing is, no matter how much I tried to convince myself, and attempted to read the words on screen, for me, it really wasn’t the same.
I love everything about having a physical book in my hands. From the moment in the library or Bookshop you see a cover that pulls you towards it and you can’t help but pick it up and feel the weight of it in your hands. The feeling you get when you have it put in a bag (pre-lockdown) and handed to you or the parcel delivered in an appropriately socially distanced manoeuvre (during lockdown), the delicious sense of anticipation as you take it out and read the blurb, and check that the corners haven’t been bashed and that it looks even better than you remember. All of that is before you have even opened it to read it.
Why do I love reading physical books so much? For me, like lots of other people, the majority of my life is increasingly governed by my need to be in stretching distance of a screen. My husband jokingly refers to my phone and laptop as my office, and he is right. Every piece of my life is stored in these pieces of equipment, and they are undoubtedly a vital part of my day.
Truthfully, I just want to disconnect from the digital world for a while and lose myself completely in the act of reading. Snuggled up in bed, or lying on a sofa, mug of coffee and some biscuits in front of me, just me and my book is my idea of heaven. The only sounds are the pages being turned and the crunching of the biscuits, and that’s enough.
It’s also the fact that seeing all my books on my shelves is not only something visually beautiful, but that each one of them has a memory folded into their pages. I remember where I was when I read this book, or who bought me that one and why. Maybe the person who left me this novel may not be here any more. I can still open the book using the bookmark on page 217 when she had to stop reading because she didn’t have the strength to turn the pages. I can hold it in my arms and remember her for a moment, and how she was the one who helped me fall in love with books.
Do e-books bring the same memories to your reading? Maybe I’m missing something, and I’ve got this all wrong? Without a doubt having all the books on a device means you can access lots of books at any time, and it’s a lot easier to take on holiday. Yet one of the few joys of packing for me is going through my bookshelves and deciding which books I am going to squeeze into my case, and adding a couple (four) into my handbag just to make sure I don’t run out. Don’t even get me started on the joy that is finding a Bookshop in the place you are staying!
One of the many realities that has come to light during this strange time is that as we come out of Lockdown that it’s a real possibility going forward proofs of new releases may be only available to bloggers digitally. With my rational head on, that absolutely makes sense. Much less cost for the publisher, the ease of sending the book, and the fact you can start reading immediately.
It’s just not for me. All it means is doing what I’ve been doing for years – using the brilliant libraries, treating myself at a Bookshop or simply selecting one of my own books from my crowded shelves.
Book Blogging is just that – talking about the books you have read whenever they were published, and sometimes I have forgotten that and have put the Fear Of Missing Out above taking the time to look at the books I already have – and that’s another blog post entirely!
Reading is reading however you choose to do it, be it on an e-reader, on a phone or a physical book and this is only my opinion. What ultimately unites us all especially in these strange times is our love of books and the joy we get from talking about them, however we choose to read.
My name is Clare Reynolds and I don’t like reading e-books – and I feel so much better for telling you!