Life on the shelf.

After recently taking the train to meet a friend, I was graced with the pleasant opportunity of having 45 minutes of peace and quiet to enjoy. Reading a book would go down a treat.

I opened up my bag and was irritated to find that I had forgotten to put my book in there that morning – after rushing to leave the house on time. Luckily though, I remembered that I had my Kindle app on my phone.

Before starting to read, I browsed the carriage around me. I was in the quiet zone, so there were no headphones in, or screaming children, but I was shocked to see just how many people were sat on their phones, tablets, notebooks or laptops. And only one woman appeared to be reading on a Kindle. There was not a physical book in sight.

The return journey was much the same, two people sat staring out the window, a group of Lynx covered 15 year olds chatted and played on their phones, and another guy sat glued to his iPhone, as though his life depended on it. Further down the train I could see headphones and tablets being used. But not a book in sight.

As I opened up my Kindle app and selected my book of choice – I had an over whelming urge to let people know that I was reading – and not checking my social media. Of course, I didn’t utter a word because I would look like a mad-woman on the train, but nonetheless the feeling remained.

I’m a proud reader, and a proud English teacher, and actually – it saddens me that in the new age of technology, we appear to be losing our love of books.

This propelled me to think about ebooks vs actual paper books. I am a lover of a paper book. I enjoy the smell of the pages, I like the way the spine crinkles, and I like the way you can tell the difference between a well-loved book and a brand new one. The pages are even falling out of some of my favourites, but that just adds charm and character. A well read, and well loved book is almost a way of saying “thank you” to an author, a visual representation of how much you loved their work.

An ebook on the other hand, is characterless. It has no personality. At a glance, you could be reading anything. The joy of a colourful cover and spine is taken away from you, and flicking through the pages to re-read an earlier piece is near-on impossible.

Interesting then, that if I gave my classes at school the choice of a Kindle or a paper book, I am almost certain that 100% of the students would grab the Kindle. To them it’s cooler, it’s electronic – it has buttons, and you don’t look as ‘geeky’ because it (almost) disguises itself as a tablet. This leads me to wonder then, as technology increases, and the world of books is just a click away, are paper books going to become redundant? Are they going to have to endure a permanent life on the shelf? Whilst they peer at people around them endlessly clicking and downloading their favourite stories, they will sit back, gathering dust. Rejected.

Although I am not 100% against the Kindle, as I say, it saved me in my moment of forgetfulness on the train this morning – and for holidays they are ideal (lightweight, portable, can hold thousands of books in one place.) I do not plan on letting the physical book fade out of my life. There is nothing better than walking into a book shop, browsing through the pages of different authors and seeing all the crisp spines, waiting to be opened. And there is nothing nicer, than looking at your favourite book on the shelf, with the cover hiding a whole world of imagination and joy, that other people are yet to discover.

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