Before I start, I have to mention an example of what I wrote about in my last blog post: the use of the telephone to cover an urgent business matter that could and should have been asked for and answered in an email exchange at least a week earlier.
Let me explain. I wrote an article for a magazine which had a deadline of February 24. I met the deadline and also submitted contact information for the people I'd interviewed so that the photographer could touch base with them for the photo shoot. As I was leaving another meeting today, my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number but picked it up. it was the photographer needing to know NOW the address of one of the people since he was driving NOW to their house to shoot them. Um, OK, so now this is my problem? I wasn't at my desk, I didn't have my computer and I was in the car at the whim of a photographer who just realized he didn't have the information to complete his assignment: ten minutes before he was due.
Now do you think that's a breach of electronic etiquette? In the end I did call him back with the information he needed, but we could all have done without the fire drill.
Anyway, onto the subject at hand - books. I love technology as much as the next person. I am replete with iPhones, iPads, iMacs, a DVR, a Blu-Ray DVD player, Netflix on demand, you name it; but I'm still not sold on ebooks. Yes, I have the Kindle app on my iPad and yes, I've actually downloaded a few books onto it, but I haven't read them. I ended up buying the "real" books instead. Pathetic really.
I like reading actual books, with places that you can stick a bookmark. I travel on planes with books - it's insane. I'm the person on the plane next to you with a hardback book, yes, hardback and how anachronistic is that? They weigh a ton and I'm aware it's not efficient, but there are three, admittedly personal, reasons why I prefer paper to screen.
1. I like the way books smell and the way they feel in your hand. There's just something about turning pages, whether they're old or new, that's reassuring and solid. They exist in the real world to be inhaled, devoured with your eyes and your mind, and treasured for the long term.
2. I love the way books look on a shelf where you can peruse the spines, reminiscing about those you've read, looking forward to those you've yet to get round to and picking up once more, those you read again and again. What kind of library doesn't have real books? Imagine places like the Library of Congress, or, The Bodleian library in Oxford, with just a shelves of iPads or kindles.
It reminds me of that classic scene in the movie The Time Machine (the original, thank you, not the really bad remake with Guy Pearce), where Rod Taylor is in the future with the Eloi and asks where their history books are. He's taken to a room where he sees shelves of them, much to his delight, but when he picks them up, they crumble to dust in his hands. Their version of books were rings that you spin around to listen to a voice articulating the information within.
Now there was a man ahead of his time: H.G. Wells wrote that book in 1895 and here we are listening to books on spinning CDs and podcasts as well as reading ebooks.
3. You can share books. If you've read a great one, you can extol its virtues and pass it along to someone else whose desire to read is as great as your own. I'm aware that this comes with its own pitfalls - like maybe never seeing said book again - but you can pass a book around to anyone you want, any time you want and as many times as you want. How on earth do you share an ebook? I had the ridiculous situation a couple of weeks ago where Fiona wanted to read a particular book and I downloaded it onto the iPad. Then, she needed the book at school so she got it out of the school library and never touched the iPad again. I can't be the only person this has happened to.
So yeah, call me old-fashioned - I am in this respect. But I'm definitely not the only one out there who loves real books.
I am probably the only person out there who refuses to have a TV in the bedroom though. And that's a whole other story!