Why, For Me, Print Will Never Be Extinct

Regular readers of this blog and those who’ve kindly subjected themselves to my books will know that I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan. I love the book, I love the movie and even though I’m a total coward who wouldn’t get on a rollercoaster if I was told there’d be a million dollars waiting for me at the other end of it, I braved Universal Studios Jurassic Park River Ride just to see the JP view from the lazy boat ride bit that came before the 80 foot drop.

The first edition jacket design of Jurassic Park.

I love Jurassic Park because it’s one of the first adult books I ever read and I can clearly remember reading it—or trying to; it was 1993 and I was only 11 —in the little caravan my parents used to have installed by the sea. It’s not Pulitzer Prize-winning literature or anything, but it’s a truly great read and reading it was the first time a book really took me away. I re-read it at least once a year, and still have my totally tattered, dog-eared and barely-held-together-by-Sellotape movie tie-in paperback. And if you are thinking What is she on about? Isn’t that book just about dinosaurs?, then I’m afraid we can’t be friends.

And you’re missing out. Big time.

But anyway, my point is I love Jurassic Park. And because I love Jurassic Park, I got a bit teary-eyed watching this TED video in which designer Chip Kidd talks about working on book jackets for Alfred A. Knopf.

I was watching it because I’d heard it was funny and interesting and it was about book cover designs. But a few minutes in, I suddenly realized who I was watching. This was Chip Kidd! The Chip Kidd who designed one of the most iconic book covers in recent memory—the T-Rex silouhette on the cover of the first edition of Jurassic Park! I was transfixed as he described how he bought a book from the gift shop at the Natural History Museum in New York, found an interesting-looking T-Rex skeleton, put a sheet of tracing paper over it and filled the spaces in with pen. Then he added typography to give the cover an overall look of “public park signage”—which, as soon as you hear this, you instantly see and understand. It could be a “Warning: Dinosaurs Crossing” sign, which is of course the kind of thing you’d find in a park of dinosaur attractions.

(Albeit one where the fences had failed.)

A couple weeks back in L.A., I was floating through Barnes and Noble at The Grove on a fluffy cloud of contented delirium when I gasped at the sight of a special edition of Jurassic Park on a table a foot away (and then quickly looked around to make sure no one had heard me gasp).

It was a thing of beauty. Hardback. That thing where the cover is a soft leather and the imagery is embossed into the surface that I don’t know the technical name for. The original T-Rex. Two books in one, Jurassic Park and its inferior but still really good sequel, The Lost World. Silver-edged pages, and on them the original type that I know so well. A map of Isla Sorna (the island from The Lost World) inside, and a red ribbon to mark my place.

I was in love, and I could bring home that love for only $20. Despite my self-imposed rule of no book buying due to no space in my suitcase, I practically ran to the register to pay for it.

On another trip to that same Barnes and Noble, I came across the edition of Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth that was made famous by Oprah’s Book Club.

My edition of Pillars of the Earth, AKA The Fugly One.

It really is a stunning-looking book. My edition of The Pillars of Earth is an offensive eyesore that I can only hope was “designed” (ahem) and printed before Oprah picked it and the eyes of the world turned in its direction, because it really is a horrible, horrible looking book.

The pretty US/Oprah edition, soon to be winging its way to me from Amazon.com. You can’t really appreciate this in 2-D; the physical book is all shiny and embossed and stuff.

The gold/cream edition hadn’t been in Irish bookstores and so now, naturally, I wanted to buy the pretty one, replace the ugly one with it on my shelf (or in the boxes I have in storage as I am currently bookshelves-less) and donate the ugly one to a charity shop or something.

Hearing this, my companion said, “But it doesn’t matter what they look like.”

I swear to the Book Gods, life left my body for a second. My heart felt it like stopped.

It doesn’t matter what they look like?

It doesn’t matter what they look like?!!

Are you ON CRACK?!

But then I realized something: this is why some people can love their Kindles without pining for printed books. Because they don’t love the books themselves, like I do. They’re just after the words. For me, the words are the most important bit, yes, but they’re not the only important bit. For others, the format is irrelevant. We’re two entirely different kinds of readers. And that’s fine. That’s great even, for them, because I’d bet they haven’t cleared out their bank accounts buying multiple editions of the same book because the newer one was prettier.

But don’t tell me that a world without physical books will be a better world. Don’t tell me that I’ll “get used” to e-books. Don’t tell me that literature is going the way of music, because I don’t know about you but I never lovingly stroked a CD case (except for maybe a John Mayer’s Battle Studies but that was for, ahem, different reasons…) or held it in my hands, gazing at it adoringly, while I listened.

You only think that people will one day ditch print books completely because you are not a person who loves printed books. You love reading books, which is a different thing. It’s just one component of what I love. And what I love can never be replaced with some HTML and some plastic.

There are readers, and there are readers who also love books. I think there’s enough of the latter to ensure that while we all might profess love for our Kindles, the printed book is here to stay.

Now kindly all go and read Jurassic Park.

[UPDATE 16.07.12: Woo-hoo—Freshly Pressed! WordPress obviously love JP too. Obviously. I think we should start a book club…]

108 thoughts on “Why, For Me, Print Will Never Be Extinct

  1. Clare Davidson says:

    Great post, I completely agree. I like the portability of my kindle, but you can’t beat having a real book in your hands. If I love a book I’ve read on the kindle enough, I also buy the paperback version.

  2. mattspop says:

    Know exactly where you’re coming from – I keep on buying from ‘Folio Society’ for exactly that reason.

  3. Linda Acaster says:

    Imagine smoke and coughing: “My name is Linda Acaster and I am a UK Kindle convert.”

    For fiction. For NFiction if I like the ebook I’ll download to my laptop so I can mark it up easily (think Post-It notes in a paper edition).

    However, word on the wire is that although pbk sales are declining at a rapid rate, hbk sales are not and, much to publishers’ surprise, folks who enjoy the ebk go out and buy a print copy for their shelves, a hardback. So a thing of beauty? You bet.

    I also agree that just because I take content over look, other readers don’t, which is why I’m going down the Createspace route for a test on a couple of my ebooks. We shall see.

  4. Rhoda Baxter says:

    I think people see ebooks vs print as either or. They are not. I love reading ebooks. If I love a book enough, I buy a print copy.
    Re Juarassic Park – I did my A-Level English lit project on Jurassic Park (comparing it to Arther Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World’). It was mostly an excuse to get a free copy or Jurassic Park… You’ve made me want to go dig out my battered copy of JP and read it again.

  5. Come November says:

    I love reading. I hate reading things off of screens. It makes my eyes hurt. There’s just something about an actual book – it’s smell, the sound of the pages turning, worn out and discolored page edges, cover at. I worry all the time the actual books will eventually disappear – though not entirely in a Fahrenheit 451 sort of way. I have whole piles of To Read, Read Again, Read Yet Again. I think that as long as people out there get still get excited by a newly released special edition, or a jaded first edition, etc…print will never die.


  6. Jennifer Mosher says:

    Thank you Catherine, great post, really entertaining!

    About 25 years BK (before kids) we bought a red velvet covered, gold embossed, gold edged copy of the stories of Sherlock Holmes, simply because it was a beautiful book – no other reason. It cost us $20 then – about one third of our weekly food budget, so we even saved for it!

    Now, while I love my ebooks and I work in epublishing, I’m delighted that my 20 year old daughter has been taking Sherlock to bed each night, relishing in Sir Arthur’s words, stories and characters, and simply loving ‘the book’ for what it is.

    Digital may reign as far as immediacy and sales go, especially for the books which are normally issued in paperback, but while we have people like you and my daughter who ‘get’ the whole reading experience, there will always be a place for ‘real’ books in the world.

    (I get it too, but I nearly only ever read a book once, so can’t bear to waste that tree for just one read.)

  7. Hannah Steenbock says:

    You know, I was sorely tempted to tell you I’d get Jurassic Park for my Kindle, then. 😉

    Yet, I know exactly where you came from and why that beautiful hardcover edition of Jurassic Park made your heart jump with joy. I have books like that which I treasure precisely because of their “hardware”. I like sniffing at new books. There have been a few I could only read with difficulty because the scent was offensive. Fortunately, it dissipated after a while.

    Funny enough, I would actually prefer your “fugly” edtion of Pillars of the Earth, though. The second cover seems very crowded and incoherent with the many different fonts they used for the different “patches” of information. Each to their own likes, I guess.

    Thanks for the post! I totally enjoyed it.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I don’t mind *how* you read Jurassic Park—but you should! ;-D

      I think the fugly POTE has to be seen in the flesh, so to speak, to appreciate its horribleness in comparison to the other one. It’s trim size is your average paperback but it’s really thick, so it’s like a short, stumpy book. (If that makes any sense! I’d take a picture but my books are in a storage unit about 15 miles from where I live.) The other one is a larger paperback (the same trim size as a hardback, 6 x 9 I think…?) and US books always seem to have thinner paper, so it’s much easier to read. I just think the jacket designs make them two entirely different books—one I’d want to read, and one I wouldn’t.

  8. Janelle says:

    I had the same experience with the Riders of Pern series by the late Anne McCaffrey. She was my first experience with fantasy. I still have my Pern collection.

    • Hannah Steenbock says:

      Janelle, which editions do you have? I have most of the original ones except for one of the Harper Hall series which I lent out and never got back. Had to replace it with a newer edition which doesn’t fit my collection – grrrr.

    • michaelrwilson says:

      I drank a single shot of Irish Whiskey in her honor the day I heard she had passed away. She was my first ‘grown-up’ fantasy novel: Dragonflight. (I have used clear contact paper to keep the books together. They are in tough shape, but since they still say $2.95 on the cover I can’t bear to part with them. It makes me smile compared to today’s prices.)

  9. Siobhan Pratt says:

    Catherine, I am giggling into my green tea! For Christmas I bought myself Sturrock’s ‘Storyteller’ even though it is so enormous and barely fits onto any of my groaning bookshelves, just because it is too important a book to be hidden away with the hundreds of others (that don’t require dusting) in my kindle. Like so many of my other old favourites, I just want to be able to SEE it.

  10. michaelrwilson says:

    Ian Malcolm dead…Ian Malcolm back to life…Hammond dead in the book, alive in the movie…I wish Crighton had made up his mind between books and movies. It was a great book and it was a great movie but when you put them side by side it vexes me!

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      But you shouldn’t put them side by side—they’re two totally different entities. The number of dinosaur species was also cut by more than half, but we don’t worry about that, do we? And I think the whole Malcolm dead/alive between JP and The Lost World is explained by the prologue of JP which implies that the story was put together following interviews from some of the participants and news reports, and that although the full story may never be known, this is as best as we could do. Lost World opens with Malcolm alluding to reports that reported him dead and a long recuperation. It all works for me in the fictional universe of the books!

  11. MarinaSofia says:

    You are so right. Sooo right! I used to have these cheap, badly printed second-hand paperbacks when I was a teenager and badly wanted to read a certain book. But when I decided the book was a keeper, I was always keen to find the best, most beautiful edition possible. Something that feels silky and smooth and satisfyingly heavy in your hands. Something that shows how much love, care and thought went into the production of the book.
    I also find it quite amusing that I can instantly find a passage in my paperbacks that I want to read out loud again to my husband, while he fiddles around with his Kindle for ages until he finds what he wants to read out to me.

  12. Kristi Helvig says:

    I’ve seen that Chip Kidd talk before and was blown away. What he did with both Jurassic Park–and Dry–was brilliant. I’m a total cover whore and am not ashamed to admit it. I picked up a book yesterday based solely on the cover and title…how can you not pick up a book called Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Anyway, I have yet to buy an e-reader, but really hope that you’re right about print. I need my covers!

  13. Jennifer says:

    I love my kindle, but if a book has a particularly gorgeous cover I still get a hardcopy. 🙂

    My thought is that cheap mass market paperbacks will probably die, but they’ll still print off special hardcover editions of popular books, like they still make old style records of new music for the die hard collectors. I mean, I bought the special collection of the entire Buffy series even though I can watch it all on netflix. I just like having a box set of my favorite T.V. show on my shelf, plus bonus features!

  14. Ariane/The Force Expansive says:

    ooooh, I loved this post. I went on about book design and how I’d never get a kindle, ever, when I received my copy of 1Q84 in the mail last fall — an incredibly gorgeous piece of portable art, that book is (http://tinyurl.com/7trsyjz). I’ll be reading Jurassic Park now, thanks to you, and looking forward to the summertime escape into jungle and dinosaurs. Yay, books!

  15. Parlor of Horror says:

    I guess I am old fashioned but when I pay for something I like to have a physical thing in my hand. I like to display my favorite books on shelves so they are a constant reminder of things I learned from them, ideas that I feel need to be remembered or just the enjoyment I had experienced from reading them. They are like trophies to me. I will often re-read books years later to regain some of the enjoyment or even find new experience in them.

  16. Chihuahua Zero says:

    I’m a few minutes late to the comments party.

    “Are you ON CRACK?!” XD

    You’re right. One reason why print books won’t die because of their potential for the actual copy to be a work of art. It doesn’t have a major effect in the story within, but that’s an apples and oranges situation.

  17. JHM says:

    To paraphrase what I posted elsewhere upon reading this article: This is so close to my own line of thinking that it’s not even funny. It hits the nail on the head of not only why I think that print publishing will never (in this era) go “out of fashion, ” but to the heart of why I collect books, even why I love books to begin with. It is the aesthetic, the sheer amalgam of sight and touch and even sound and smell that makes reading an actual book the kind of delight that reading a text electronically can never fully capture. Design may be one of the subtler losses, but it is one of the great ones. Thank you for saying this.

  18. Debra Eve says:

    I still have my dog-eared, falling-apart paperback of Jurassic Park. It’s one of Crichton’s best. Loved the book more than the movie, but both were ground-breaking. I so agree with JHM above. I’m a proud collector and reader of books, but will always love the aesthetic of print. Thanks, Catherine!

  19. char says:

    Books are amazing–feeling the pages, gazing at a good cover! And Jurassic Park–one of the best books of all time. So much better than the movie. I couldn’t sleep for weeks for nightmares after reading it.

  20. James T Kelly says:

    Aw, poor Lost World. I thought it was a good book, and actually superior to its predecessor in places. Jurassic Park is, of course, the one and only original, but I’ve reread Lost World many more times!

  21. Judith Briles says:

    I am proud to say that I am one of those readers who love books. Yes, ebooks are convenient and a more affordable and mobile option for printed books. But, like you, I love to get hold of the real book and feel that excitement every time I start reading the first page.

  22. stretchyhannah says:

    Personally, I love the smell of books. I have two copies of all of my favourite books – one to be read that is nice and presentable on my bookshelves, and the other to read purely in the bath. The latter copies are all wrinkly from being dropped, many times. Can’t do that with a Kindle (think of the constant expense!), and for this reason, I will always love my wrinkly books.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      Thank God someone else does this! I was too ashamed to admit that sometimes I buy two copies—one to read and one to keep! ;-D

      I bought a beautiful anniversary edition of Stephen King’s THE STAND but it was in paperback, and that’s such a long book (and this was the author’s “uncut” original version) it was a huge, thick paperback—more like a doorstop than a book. Reading it would have totally wrecked the spine, so I bought another, non-special edition for re-reading.

      Maybe there’s the book buying equivalent of AA or something…? My bank account needs it! 😀

  23. Chris Jordan says:

    I have an e-reader, but I’ll be honest, I haven’t read any books on it yet! There’s just something about the smell and feel of a book that can’t be replaced by the latest technology – ever!

  24. margaretvinshire says:

    I have to say, I totally agree with you. I’m one of those people who has a Kindle and while I like the idea of having endless books in one’s purse with no weight added, there is something stunningly wonderful about having a real paper book in one’s hands.

    ebooks may grow popular – but print books will never go out of style. 🙂

  25. mlatimerridley says:

    Haha, oh god this is hilarious, ‘are you on crack?’ That sounds like something I’d say in response to that! I’m completely the same when it comes to covers! While I don’t love Jurassic Park like you do, I was staring at those photos going, ‘Me wants…’ just for the pure beauty of its red and white cover!

  26. Monica T. Rodriguez says:

    I finally broke down last summer and bought a Nook. I don’t regret it — the convenience, especially when traveling, is terrific. But I am a book lover. I found that there were some books I just don’t want to read on an ereader. I finally figured out that when I already have a strong emotional connection to a story (with a series, for example), I don’t want to read the story as an ebook. I have to read it in print. Perhaps there’s a stronger connection to the paper and all the associations we have with the printed page. Not quite the same criteria as you, but still saying, there is still a place for printed books in this world, and I for one will continue to read them!

  27. nazarioartpainting says:

    I always said thank you Catherine for your great advise. Your post are very helful for me. Thank You. Good luck in all you can do.

  28. Sheenah Freitas says:

    There are others out there who think like me! If I mention the possibility of buying a book with a prettier book cover, I get people who stare at me like I’m on crack. Um… excuse me if I want the pretty book cover before the movie came out. Took me forever to find the book cover of The Help before the movie edition. But I found it and I’m happy. Ereaders are convenient, but they can never replace my bookshelf of pretty covers. 🙂

  29. Shannon says:

    I still have a handful of books that belonged to my mom (The Pink Motel, Scarlett Letter) and grandmother (Gone with the Wind) — can you imagine trying to pass on your Kindle to your kids? By the time I have kids they’ll probably have like hologram books or something other silliness like that so even if I did feel the need to pass on my Kindle library it wouldn’t be compatible with their devices. That’s my #1 reason (on a list of at least 50) for keeping books. (Also my IKEA shelves wouldn’t look as pretty without them.) So I’m right there with you Catherine!

  30. dcphotoartist says:

    This is preaching to the choir in my case, but thank you for saying it again! I’m an ardent bibliophile in the literal sense – about 2000 volumes in my home library and I’m not quitting any time soon. I love the feel, the smell, of books. Back when I was a kid we took a trip to Hay-on-Wye during our UK holiday and I think I could have just stopped there and never gone home. I just can’t get in to reading books on an e-reader- my iPad may be able to store the content of many books, but it is NOT a book. I can’t curl up with it in bed. I don’t have that sense of intimacy I get with a book. I think it’s because we don’t interact the same way – something about the physical act of turning the pages, and the reflected light of the page vs the transmitted light of the screen. The reflected page is less tiring.

  31. vandysnape says:

    I am a huge JP fan too. For a few weeks after reading it, I became a temporary dinosaur-geek. You have described all the reasons why printed books are always the best. For me the old book smell is also the reason for not having shifted to e-readers. Recently I read an article about Library-book perfumes which you can spray on your e-reader but the feeling ill never be the same.

  32. dcphotoartist says:

    Reblogged this on dcphotoartist and commented:
    As an ardent bibliophile, I felt compelled to share this. Physical books are a sacred thing, yes even trashy paperback romance novels (well, maybe not romance novels… but you get the point). Books need to physically exist. Books need to be handled, read and loved. Go love a book today!

  33. cigarettesandmovies says:

    Printed books, thankfully, will always be around. I loved art books and there’s no way I’d want them on an e-reader, for example. I’m not too fussed about novels, I find I read them a lot quicker on my kindle, but I do miss the art work. It’s kinda like downloading an MP3 and missing all the extras you get with an album…Cool article.

  34. HeWritesOnePageADay says:

    I think the allure of printed word is always going to attract people. Like you said with your old copy of Jurassic Park, I think the tattered pages and dog eared corners serve to place you in a setting most fitting for a book about rampant dinosaurs and a naive flea circus enthusiast. That hardback copy has incredible cover art! Good read. 🙂 (your blog post, and Jurassic Park btw).

  35. Jay Dee says:

    I completely agree. Although I’m planning to publish electronically, I still prefer to buy and read physical books.

    Oh, and Jurassic Park was a great book to read 🙂 I enjoyed it far more than the movie, as well.

  36. doctor dolittle says:

    I so agree! I recently splashed out on a Virago Modern Classics hardback edition of Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel. Not ‘cos it’s a great book (it is) but because I loved the cover art by designer Neisha Crosland.

  37. Jnana Hodson says:

    Could it be that the future of book publishing is in tactile and aromatic dimensions as much as the eye? The premium end of the spectrum.
    We haven’t even touched on some of the beautiful poetry chapbooks that are a delight to hold, with their fine typography, to boot.
    The comments about gorgeous covers is on-target, too. How often I find myself staring at a front that sings perfectly. I’m even thinking of many of my LP recordings in their wonderful holders, versus the miniature designs on the CDs and tape cassettes. (Well, it’s still printed matter, right?) Photography and artwork are as much a part of this discussion as the text itself.
    For now, I’m starting to go through many of my books (meaning paper) and enjoying revisiting comments and markings from my past, sometimes four decades ago. What a trip!

  38. FiveFootMe says:

    Nice post! Personally, I too prefer a real book in my hands – the feel of the covers, the pages and, and yes even the weight of a paper/hardback.

  39. Kaylee Bowers says:

    Love the post! I am one of those readers who loves the book as well as the words inside it. When I lend books to trusted friends, I have to warn them not to hurt my books by shoving them into backpacks or something along those lines or I’ll get very angry with them. 🙂

  40. Nicolle says:

    I’m with you on loving books. Just because I have a Kindle doesn’t mean i won’t buy physical books anymore.

    Congrats on yet another freshly pressed!!!

  41. Mikalee Byerman says:

    It seems the Freshly Pressed gods have a sense of humor — “pressing” a post about how print will never die?!?! Love it!

    But I’m eternally grateful that they chose one of my favorite bloggers…

    I’m a very tactile person. While I devour books on my Kindle, I also find myself still needing to turn actual pages and smell ink. I know, sounds odd…but it has a distinct smell.

    Oh, and mildew. Don’t get me started on how much I love the smell of mildew in a used book store. 😉

    Great post!

  42. oliver2punkt0 says:

    I agree. It is not just the written words. It is the complete Book we buy. And it is the responsibilty of the publishers to keep that in mind.
    For bookcovers there are hundreds of new ideas waiting for the right book.
    I know it – i love books, I read books and I am working in a printing company.

  43. Bluejay says:

    Loved this post and I agree 100 percent. I’m a lover of the physical book — currently trying not to spend quite as much money on different editions of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines and Fever Crumb series. The book’s form absolutely matters; reading a Sandman comic should feel different from reading Moby-Dick, in heft and texture and font.

  44. 4myskin says:

    Completely agree! Why the cover of the book isn’t the most important part to me, a pretty book is enough to make me swoon! I have 3 different collections from that Barnes and Noble special edition collection. SIGH 😀

  45. gottagetbaked says:

    I love this post – it was as if I were listening to myself speak as I was reading it. I LOVE Jurassic Park – I have ever since I first saw the movie in theatres in the 7th grade, which inspired me to read the fantastic book. I’ve read it at least 30 times and each time it makes me feel and consider something new. I also strongly believe that print will never Go out of style (I tell my husband all the time that the printing press is one of humanity’s greatest inventions). I LOVE buying a book, feeling its cover, smelling the pages, and tucking a book mark into it to save my page as I’m reading. And nothing makes me happier than gazing at my bookshelves brimming full of books and running my finger along the spines. Ok, I’m starting to sound crazy. I just wanted to let you know that I feel the same way you do!

  46. L. Palmer says:

    Here’s a great blog post I read the other day, also celebrating print books: nopageleftblank.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/a-dying-breed

    I have a tablet, and a smart phone, and just last night I was reminded of the great qualities of books, like not changing the page when you accidentally tap it, or not opening the right chapter when you try to press on the table of contents.

    There is something more beautiful, and life-like about a physical book. There’s something about the tactility of a book, as well as the ability to write in the margins. There is a greater dialogue between the reader and the text. As mentioned above, I do use a tablet, but, if I’m at home, I greatly prefer my dog-eared, note-covered copy of a beloved book over the clean, clinicalness of a screen. It’s like the difference between camping outdoors in the dirt, enjoying nature for all its imperfections and going to an orchestrated resort version of the same thing.

  47. sweetaddict says:

    I agree with all of the sentiments about books, and even for magazines. I look at a screen all day, why would I want to go home and stare at one there?

  48. S.C. Chalmers says:

    Great post. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who sometimes has a “pretty copy” of a book … and then the tattered old “reading copy” – although not for all the books, just the favorites, I swear! 🙂

  49. Sarah Harris says:

    I totally agree that I will never go kindle because I agree, the cover has to grab me (but I loved your perspective of all that covers can be!) and I need to be able to turn pages and see how far I’ve gotten in the book and also to see how much longer I get to spend with the characters. I’m totally going to buy Jurassic Park for my 11 year old son because we loved the movie but the books take you deeper! Usually we do it in the opposite order. Great post!

  50. Margaret Grant says:

    I have to agree. It’s the look of them, the heft, the copyright date, and — definitely — the smell. True love. I will say though that I did used to practically memorize album and CD liner notes. Great writing, some of them.

  51. twintrons says:

    Everything I do is on a screen. Even when I don’t want it to be, it is. Technology is a double-edged sword. If weren’t available, I would be doing God knows what. At the same time, my eyes burn from doing pretty much everything on them. Books, good ol’ paperback |hardback books let me know tangible objects still exist.

    Great post!

  52. Christopher says:

    I think I would like a tablet or an E-Reader at some point, for the convenience and portability aspect. I can tell you a couple things right now though: 1. I will end up buying books I already own in electronic format 2. I will end up buying the books for things I bought digitally and loved. It’s not going to be a cost effective investment for me.
    Also, I am totally one of those people that has to find the right version of a book or series, and then purchase them all to make sure they match.

  53. beckygermain says:

    I actually love print because I love the entire sensory experience of it. I love the way books smell. I love the way the pages feel. I love the cover art. I love how they look displayed on my bookshelf…like art. I might one day have a Kindle just for travel or vacation, but my heart will always belong to print.

  54. avadapalabra says:

    Oh yes, nothing beats the good old feel of a nice printed book in your hand… even if it keeps trying to snap closed (aka pocket edition), fall off (aka larger deluxe hard cover) or give the ball of your thumbs a hard job securing it. I personally adore the soft-yet-rough feeling of the yellowish cheap-paper editions; reading pencil in hand, making notes here and there…
    As for covers, I have often wondered at some I didn’t quite like or even get. Anyway, I do like the whole bunch of paratextual stuff (i.e. covers, comments, index, prefaces/forewords, even the sometimes lengthy commentary contained within). I sometimes daydream about the title my first book should have 😉
    As an unpublished writer (wow first time I have written it unpreceded by ‘amateur’; well done boy!) I share my stuff in my blog [come in have alook whoever feels like it, everyone be my guest]. But books definitely rock!

  55. CJ Vali says:

    We’re definitely on the same page (no pun intended). I am as much or more in love with books themselves as I am with the text within. I love used book shopping and last time I was at my favorite store, I bought a copy of The Sun Also Rises, the only Hemingway book I hadn’t read. The cover (a tie-in for the movie) was hideous, but it was CHEAP so I bought it anyway. Reading it on my breaks at work and school I found myself hiding the cover because I was embarrassed at the ugliness of my book. A few weeks ago, I was reading a brand new copy of Atlas Shrugged when I dropped it, knocking over a glass of water I had on the floor, thus getting the book wet. It wasn’t too bad but I ended up buying a much more expensive replica copy of the original edition.

  56. Ashley says:

    This post and the follow-up comments reminded me that I am not alone. I will forever love new book smell better than new Kindle smell.

  57. Larissa says:

    Thank you so much for confirming that I am not some sort of crazy person. The feeling of satisfaction that you get from finally tracking down all the books in a series in that certain edition…priceless. You could never show your appreciation of literature by having a stunning bookshelf full of kindles and kobos!

  58. Deborah Hutti says:

    Hard-cover editions . . . love ’em! There is a place for everything in the world – with the place for beautiful hard cover books being my living room library! Great post.

  59. Jenny Hansen says:

    I freaking LOVED Pillars of the Earth, long before Oprah endorsed it. And Michael Crichton? He had me at CONGO. By the time, he got to SPHERE, I was a lifetime fan. 🙂

  60. John says:

    I totally agree with you, the actual act of picking up a book is an act that cannot be replicated by an E-reader, it just misses so much of the experience. After awhile the books start to have stories themselves, I have a tatty copy of The Rum Diary that’s been round the world with me, I doubt I’d love the book as much if it was stored away on an E-reader.

    I’m sure Kindles and whatnot have their place but as long as their are book lovers out there, there will still be a print based industry. I hope!

  61. ktwhy says:

    This post resonates with me in so many ways. I’m totally with you on replacing ugly-cover books with nicer editions; the cover is important too! And that Chip Kidd lecture is brilliant – I’ll probably be posting that on my own blog (credit to you for digging it up).

    And do you know, I have not yet read Jurassic Park but always wanted to…*bumps JP up reading list*

  62. Jonathan says:

    Jurassic Park is the first book I ever read in one go – straight through the night. I had the first edition from the library in about 1990, and remember telling friends how great it was.

  63. Denise says:

    O, Catherine – me too! Mee too! I love printed books. I’ll never get over it. The heft, the design, the smell of bindng glue – or better even, a whole room full of the smell of binding glue.

    Also, it is totally appropriate to buy the prettier edition and donate the fugly one. I do it all the time – woe to my wallet, but it’s so.

    Great post!

  64. Ivynettle says:

    This is making me think about so many things I love about printed books… too many things for a comment. I think I’l have to write a blog post myself!

  65. idiosyncratic eye says:

    I think if you’re buying a book on an off-chance sort of thing then the jacket is really important and I guess a lot of people do. But if it’s a book that I’ve wanted then I really don’t care what it looks like, weird design, torn, tatty, I just want to read it now! Unless it smells bad. 😉

  66. Rachita Misra says:

    Oh yes! I completely agree with you.. and beautifully written as well. I, myself, find it hard to enjoy reading things on the computer or kindle.. I like to feel the book in my hand.. flip through the pages.. ah the smell of old books!! its just a totally different experience, that no kindle can ever give you!!

  67. catherineryanhoward says:

    Thanks so much for your comments everyone! (And thanks to Word Press for another Freshly Pressed! Wish I knew what I was doing right…!)

    Delighted to know I’m not the only buying multiple editions.. 😀

  68. Ivynettle says:

    You should be seeing the pingback, but I wanted to say thank-you in person, so: Thank you for inspiring me to list all the reasons I love print books!

  69. braidedkitteness says:

    You are 100% correct! My Fiance, while not understanding, knows that I love paper books just as much as my kindle. I was 4 or 5 when the first JP movie came out and I’ve loved the movies ever since. Alas! I had NEVER READ THE BOOKS! Well, My man bought me the special edition book that you mentioned for my birthday and I LOVE IT! As I was reading it I couldn’t stop laughing at how much the movies got wrong. I now love them both for entirely different reasons! 😀

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