Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Burning, Dr. Quinn, and E-readers

           As odd as it may seem to say, I have been on a Dr. Quinn kick as of late. I watch episode after episode falling further in love with Sully and admiring Dr. Quinn more and more. Well, last night I watched a very interesting episode called, The Library, and it has had me thinking.  
        In this episode Dr. Quinn receives a package filled with all of her father's old books and decides that the town needs it's first library. So, they open the Josef Quinn Memorial Library in honor of her father.
The Library Episode
At first everything is going smoothly; Colleen is manning the desk, while the townspeople decide which books they wish to take home first. Much to my fear, the Reverend gets it in his head that certain books shouldn't be permitted in the town library. The story unfolds and when Dr. Quinn tries to take her father's books back, the onlookers decide it's time for a book burning. Dr. Quinn contains herself rather well, (I dare say, far better then me. I see myself crying or perhaps even risking my hands trying to pull them from the flames.) as she watches the precious treasures burn. When the fire is finally put out and Dr. Quinn is going over each book to see which ones can be salvaged, it is said "Don't worry, Dr. Mike, we can buy you more." To which she responds, "I'm afraid not, a library like this, took a lifetime to acquire." That's when it hit me. 
            I looked around my room at the many shelves of books that have taken me 24 years to get. Books about all religions, alternative medicines, ancient civilizations, and the majority being fantasy-adventure novels. Each one holds a special memory of the day I read from it. I can pick up a Tamora Pierce book, start reading, and instantly I am transported back to 13 years old and lying on my unicorn quilt as the summer sun shines in through my window.
            You probably expect me to go on about how fortunate we are that we don't have to worry about someone banging down our door, trying to steal our books and burn them. We are fortunate and that did cross my mind during the Library episode, but it didn't dominate my thoughts. E-readers did.
            For the longest time I was against buying an e-reader for myself. I like the feel of a book in my hand, the smell of the pages. I like the connection that forms when you've read a book, how a part of you that book becomes. E-readers promise to be easy on the eyes, light weight, cheaper books-- You can carry your whole library with you, when you travel! Books don't hurt my eyes, the weight doesn't bother me, I'm ok with paying more for the real thing-- I don't travel and if I did, why would I bring my whole library? I'm not saying don't buy an e-reader. I'm saying the benefits of an e-reader don't encourage me to give up the real thing for a virtual-digital copy.
             That changed when I learned that by buying a Nook for myself and for my sister, we could share books. Meaning if I bought a book, it would appear in her Nook and vice versa. Plus, as an environmentalist, owning an e-reader would save trees and that is bigger then my romantic ideals of books. So, the decision was made. When I had the money, I would buy an e-reader.
             But this episode of Dr. Quinn has me second guessing that decision. When I die, my library will be passed onto to whatever family survives me. My collection of signed copies, the rare and no-longer-in print copies that I had to hunt for, and even the Harry Potter copy that has 'love always' inscribed on the inside cover (*sigh* first loves) will all go to someone special. Hopefully they will see these books as much of a treasure as I do. 
Go on, groan with envy. I did too. Click here for a closer look at the library!
             By the time I grow old and die, my collection should have become an actual library (I've always wanted a Beauty and the Beast sized library *wink* and falling short of that, a reading room to rival Niles Crane's circular library). However, if I purchase an e-reader as I had planned, the growth of my physical library will greatly diminish. This leaves me concerned. Am I sacrificing my long life dream of owning an in-home library for the fad of technology? Am I depriving my descendants of true treasures?   
           The answers to these questions, I don't have. I think only time and experience will give me the answers. I feel that whether I embrace the e-reader or not, will not stop them from becoming the ruling form of book format. The digital age is upon us. Progress. Progress. Progress. By 2020 the South Korean government plans to have a robot in every household (i, Robot anyone?), so how can we expect the printed word to survive?   
            In a few years I may change my mind about all of this or maybe the lack of still printed books will force me to own an e-reader. However, at the moment, for the sake of my descendants and the youth in me that still wants that beautiful library-- I pledge to read the printed word. I will continue to grow my personal library for as long as I possibly can. I will show this by posting the pledge button you see in the top right. 
            At least if society crumbles and all of the e-readers stop working, I will still be able to read my books ;D If you would like a pledge button of your own, just click the button. 
Thank you:

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