Sunday, December 8, 2013

My New Problem with eBooks

2013 has been a year of ebooks. I'm speaking from personal experience. A third of the books I've read this year have been kindle reads. I'm not here to complain, lament the state of publishing, or whine about the decline of the physical book.  I love my kindle. It's there for me when I really want to read a tome that is too heavy to jam into my purse. It's perfect for when I'm looking for a new book and don't want to change out of my pajamas. Plus I've had mine signed by Neil Gaiman and I think that's pretty awesome. What I'm getting at is that I've had some truly magical reading moments with ebooks this year.

But I've noticed a problem.

The other night I was making goodreads shelves for all the years I've had this blog. I thought it would be a torturous process. I've always been a reader but it wasn't until I really started taking blogging seriously that I kept track of how many books I was going through and goodreads wasn't the first site* I used to cateloge my growing collection.

I found pretty quickly that while I only had a vague memory of some plots -2009 and 2010 were years ago - I had vivid memories of reading each book I archived. Some were simple, just me lying in my first apartment tearing through The Heights just so I could finish it and return it to the Library. Others were whole scenes, like reading The Boy in Striped Pajamas and pausing to rant to my roommate about how upset I was that I was crying over a children's book.  There were books I read on trains, and some on my patio in the summer sun. There were instant favorites and quite a few that I read only out of obligation. At the end of the day, well, at the end of 2013, I still have a perfect memory of each and every one of these books.

This probably isn't unique to me. However I've found that even looking at my list of books from this year I don't have those same warm memories. I'm finding this problem more with books I read on my kindle. Those books actually needed to resonate with me as stories to be memorable. I can gush about American Gods and The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, but Vile Bodies and The Fun Parts? Not so much. Even some of my least favorite books of this year still send me down memory lane so long as I have a real copy of it. I can remember sitting in the break room finishing Office Girl but there's a handful of eBooks that are lost to me.

I saw a post a few years ago that talked about how the biggest threat ebooks posed to that readers life was a library that would never see a post Kindle age, one where every hardcover that they owned was published before 2011. That's a real concern for me, but I've discovered it's for another reason. I need a physical book for some of these memories to set. For me that's enough of a reason to spend an extra few dollars on bound paper.

What about you guys? Are you finding your relationship with ebooks is any different from the one you had with paper? Let me know!
*Does anyone still use Librarything?