A Bibliophile’s Lament

Okay, I get that e-readers have enormous potential and are very popular right now. I have friends who have tried to convince me to buy a Kindle, and all along, I’ve declared that e-readers just aren’t for me. I love holding a book in my hand; I love browsing shelves of books–new or used, library or bookstore; I love the smell and feel of old books and discovering a really pretty copy of a favorite book on a used bookstore shelf. However, there’s one aspect of book-reading that I never even considered that I would miss with an e-reader: page numbers.

I don’t own an e-reader yet. But for simplicity’s sake (and cost-effectiveness), I downloaded the free Kindle application for my MacBook. The book I’m reading for class this week, called The Hidden Hand by E.D.E.N. Southworth, apparently only exists in current print in one edition that costs $26. Rather than buying a copy through the university bookstore, I decided to download the free copy for Amazon’s Kindle. Though it’s a bit inconvenient to have to read off my computer screen, that’s preferable to paying all that money for a book I’ll probably only read once anyway.

Still, I lament the loss of page numbers. In digital form, I have to measure my reading progress by a bar on the bottom of the screen, not the thickness of the pages still left. I also find that I like to know how many pages are in a chapter before I commit to reading it. It’s not as much fun push a button on my keyboard as it is to flip the pages in a book.

I really, really, really love books. And while it’s entirely plausible that I will one day in the relatively near future own an e-reader for the simplicity and convenience, I also know that I’ll never, ever give up my book-owning fanaticism. Or my love of page numbers.

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