As I wander along the stalls of the Federation Square book market I notice the enjoyment people still have in looking at books, picking them up, holding them and then if they decide to purchase them, going off to the coffee shop and reading them.
Itís quite a different experience to the way we are increasingly hearing about the purchase of e-books. Virtual books versus real, paper books.
Donít get me wrong - Iím not altogether opposed to e-books. I can see the benefit of them being compacted into our devices, conveniently available to us whenever we want to access them. We can store hundreds of them there, ready for reading at the push of the button or swipe of the screen. We can even access books that we canít purchase in person, old editions or popular books which have sold out. We can decide we want a book and download it straight away rather than wait until we get time to get to a book shop. We can begin to read it as we feel like it. So many benefits.
Having said that though, thereís still nothing that can replace the holding of a book. The feel of the book in our hands, the turning of the pages and the sense of how far we are into the book Ė or how much we have left to read. Thereís nothing like the smell of a book either. Old, library smelling books, wearing the dust and dirt of the years. Or fresh new paper with a crisp look, feel and smell. It all adds to the character of the book.
Not to mention the character of libraries. Thereís something special about wandering along the library book shelves noting the different colors, sizes and even shapes of books. The curiosity that comes from seeing books with a particular cover or name almost jumping off the shelf to be picked up. Itís just not the same to have rows of computers or iPads lined up. Thereís nothing quite the same as looking at a screen, even though its colors and imagery may be much more innovative and really quite interesting.
I even noticed on the train the other day that among the people looking at their technology, their phones and ipads, there were also many of us, yes me included, holding on to an old style paper book. It would certainly seem from these recent experiences that we can all keep living comfortably with both styles of books Ė virtual and paper based. What an enrichment to our life that is.