Dear Smug Lover of “Real” Books,
I think you’re an ass-cello.
It’s not that you prefer physical copies of books to e-readers. I understand. Physical books are awesome. They have this amazingly crisp, dry smell that wafts up and gets more deliciously musty as the years pass by. There’s a specific satisfaction that comes with holding a book and visually marking your progress along as you read, savoring and dreading each turn of the page because you’re that much closer to the end. I can’t deny that these things are amazing. E-Readers are cold and robotic and visually same-samey. They run out of batteries and they’re expensive and the technology isn’t even across the board, meaning that there’s going to be some compromises along the way (do I want it backlit? do I want a color display? will this e-reader massage my back and tell me it loves me in the cold of night?). So no, I don’t think you’re an ass-cello because you get a kick out of physical books and think e-readers just aren’t where it’s at. That’s cool. Rock on with your physical book lovin’ self.
It’s that you think it somehow makes you a better reader than me. That, my smug friend, is where the urge to strangle you is conceived.
You stand there in your flannel and your glasses and three-day-old stubble and just drop this hackneyed bomb like it’s somehow the first time someone said it: “Oh, I don’t do e-readers. There’s something special about real books, you know? I’ll never give that up.”
And I get so mad because on paper, what you’ve said is perfectly reasonable and sane and non-judgmental. But you say it with this tone. You stroke your stubble. Or, if you’re a female (and wearing leggings, because female Smug Lovers of “Real” Books are invariably wearing leggings when they choose to judge me), you smile with half-open eyes like Garfield and laugh, because somehow being trite and obnoxious is made okay when you laugh at whatever asinine opinion you’re parroting. You’d never give up reading real books. I gave it up. And the last time someone met my “giving it up” with such patronizing aplomb was when S.S. Virginity sailed off.
Do lovers of “Real” Books read better literature? Do they read more? Do they line their shelves with beautiful leather-bound copies of Melville, of Hugo, of Steinbeck and Austen? Do they assume that all E-Reader Lovers are just feckless posers who are rereading Twilight secretly because the cover doesn’t show on an e-reader (WHAT OF IT, I ASK YOU? WHAT OF IT!!)?
Smug Lover of “Real” Books, here are the reasons I prefer e-books to physical books, and I hesitate to even write them down because a) I’m not out to change minds, and b) I don’t owe you a justification, but I’m mad and this is the internet and I defy you to get ANYONE to shut up on the internet:
- I have moved 6 times in 7 years. The vast majority of boxes are books that I purchased pre-2008 when I got my e-reader. I love these books and will never, ever give them up. And holy crap I wish I had them in e-reader form every time I’m lugging a box down the stairs.
- Every book that I didn’t drag with me that I left in my parents’ house with the intention of picking up later is gone. The house fire got it all. All my textbooks, all my Sweet Valley Twins I had been keeping since middle school, my massive Calvin and Hobbes collection, and my 1903 copy of Notre Dame de Paris all went up in the blaze. I lost three bookcases worth of stuff. Now, Mom and Dad’s e-readers melted as well, but since their books were in the “cloud” (god I hate that phrase), they were able to download and get their stuff back no problem.
- I have an allergy to a preservative that binds ink to paper. It won’t kill me, but if I read a book without gloves, my fingers will split open and bleed. It’s lots of fun.
So, speaking personally, e-readers are where it’s at for me. I feel dirty because I justified my love of them to you, but honestly, I’m one of those people who mulls over rebuttals until they’re no longer relevant. My window of time disappeared. So instead, Smug Lover of “Real” Books, I wish you well. May you join your cousins (the Smug Lover of Mac Computers and the Smug Lover of Dogs/Cats) in hell.
PS: If you’re not smug, this rant is obviously not aimed at you, so I don’t even want to hear it. If you’re a smug e-reading enthusiast, stop defiling my people. Either way, stop being an ass-cello.