It was an epiphany that sprang from a clumsy mishap. While charging up both my MacBook Pro and my iPad last week in Chicago, and gingerly stepping over both cables as I packed up to head home, the latter slid off the bed in my hotel room and dropped to the floor. The USB power adaptor split into several pieces. Uh oh!
Having this happen right before a 2.5-hour flight home to Boston (not to mention a three-hour wait in the airport) couldn’t have been more inconvenient.
Then it hit me: If it had been a book, I wouldn’t be in this predicament.
I literally laughed at the irony. Here I was, finishing up our Print & Media Conference, where people who work with print gather to learn and network, and my bulging-with-content iPad crashes and burns, temporarily.
It reminded me why I love real books:
- They don’t break.
- You can read them on the beach or in bed (or anywhere else, for that matter).
- You don’t have to turn them off and put them away when you get on a plane.
- They don’t need to be powered up.
- You can share books with friends easily.
- They’re cheap to mail.
- If you lose a book, or you happen to drop one in the bathtub, no big deal. Spend $10 or $20 typically, and you can replace it.
Don’t get me started on the sentimental value of my books. How about my 17-year-old son’s early books from when he was a toddler? I’ve kept the best. They will always remind me of the hours we spent together, reading and rereading them. The bright illustrations on the covers alone make me tear up (if ever the Yiddish term verklempt
was appropriate, it would be now).
And how about the signed copies of books from authors I respect and know personally? You can’t replicate that
in an eBook.
On the bookshelf in my office, in clear view of this laptop on which I’m typing this blog, is a collection of books about my home state, started by the one-and-only Katherine O’Brien. When she discovered how proud I am of hailing from New Jersey, books about the Garden State started arriving in the mail a couple of times a year. KOB must have been a book dealer in her former life. I swear she finds the most fascinating and obscure titles. I must tell her how much that meant to me.
And I have managed to publish three of my own books. If you’ve ever written a book or two, you know whereof I speak: there’s nothing like gazing at a book that carries your name as its author. Books are a labor of love (emphasis on “labor”).
So the next time you forget to recharge your tablet or you’re stranded on the runway for who-knows-what reason and the flight attendant’s giving you the stink eye because you haven’t turned off your iPad fast enough—relax! Return your seat to its upright position…and read a real book. They can’t take that away from you.