Anyone who has ever loved a book is pretty much aware of how sensory the reading experience can be.
As you try to make sense of the printed word, you also feel the texture of the paper and smell the pages. All this, as your ears pay attention to the sound of each page turn, the crispiness of the high-quality paper manifesting as your fingers suddenly and forcibly hits them, to the point of bending or even folding.
I myself have fallen in love with the whole experience, and I can forever talk about how lovely it feels to have a date with a newly bought paperback on a rainy night. The cover, free from folds and wrinkles, can always be a great source of inspiration as if telling me that yes, I’ve got my shit together!
And oh, I won’t forget about those beautiful summer days when all I do is hop from one cafe to another while embracing a huge hardbound book. Its thickness and hardness give me assurance, making me safe as I enter crowded cafes where I usually worry about bumping into someone I know but don’t want to talk to.
Clearly, there is something truly special about physical books. However, as much as I would love to just depend on them alone, I can’t. I also have to let eBooks and eBook readers into my life.
When I moved into E’s unit three years ago, it was almost free from clutter. Quickly, days passed, eventually turning into weeks and months. In my first year as one of the unit’s occupants, I had a realization: I was slowly turning the place into a jungle of books. They were everywhere: on the top of the table, on the floor, on the top of the dresser. Even some of the storage spaces originally intended for his sister’s stuff were already filled with books.
In my second year in the unit, we finally decided to buy a bookshelf. It was a bit taller than what had been originally planned, so at first, it still had a lot of free spaces. But just a couple of months into my third year as a resident there, I was already filling it with new titles.
It was then that I considered owning a Kindle. I was hesitant a first, but with ample research, I was finally convinced. And so, I bought a Kindle Paperwhite from a local reseller.
The first book ever I read using this new gadget was Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. That particular reading experience had exceeded my expectations, so I easily fell in love with Kindle.
What I love about my Kindle:
- Adjustable backlight, perfect for night reading
- Adjustable brightness
- Wide variety of fonts
- Adjustable font-size
- Long battery life
- Impressive memory capacity
- Super portable
I have been using it for over a year now, and I’ve already taken it to a couple of travel destinations, including Baguio. I even endured an almost life-threatening boat ride to Mantigue Island in Camiguin with it, since I usually take it with me everywhere I go.
What about physical books?
I had already sold some of them before I moved to my new place in Quezon City. It was also partly because I just wanted to declutter and limit my possessions in general. But of course, I have still saved a couple of favorites, including some local books that aren’t available yet digitally.
Some all-time favorites have also been kept, regardless of whether they could easily be bought from local bookstores or not. These include F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, and F. H. Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles. I’ve also saved my copies of Michael Chabon’s books, including Telegraph Avenue, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay, and Moonglow.
Of course, signed copies should also stay. These included a couple of books written by my professors and other local literary idols like NVM Gonzalez. The same goes for favorite local literary anthologies, as well as books on literary criticism. In short, all books by Gemino Abad, one of my favorites, have also remained on my shelf.
How do I know if I am getting a physical book or an eBook version instead?
It’s simple: I simply have to ask myself whether I’d be willing to keep it on my shelf or not, or if I would want to let it occupy some space in my new place. This way, I can keep my home from being taken over by books. And since I’m just renting here, I have to make sure that I won’t have a hard time transporting stuff to wherever I’d move to in the future.
I also have to consider reading time into consideration. If I know from the very start that I am reading a particular book in one sitting and won’t reread or revisit it in the future for whatever reason, then I may simply go for the eBook version of it.
Therefore, owning an eBook reader is practical. While I can guarantee that holding a physical book is still the best thing a book lover could ever do, I also have to be honest that we, lovers of the printed word, also need to be more practical at times, especially if our circumstances demand us to be. In my case, I am forever haunted by concerns involving space and logistics.
I’ve also been trying to give mindful living a shot, so eBooks work so well with me. And, of course, let us not forget about the fact that one eBook reader could already contain hundreds of books. It’s light and portable, and it can easily save me from any awkward situation I would simply want to avoid.