Recently, on a Facebook post, I casually mentioned in passing
that I get a lot of my books to read at the local town library.
My Facebook friend LW wrote:
“Bob, why the public library when there is Kindle?”
My immediate thought was:
“LW, why Kindle when there is the public library?”
I absolutely prefer paperbound books over digital books — and I
am a regular patron at my town library.
As Louis L’Armour writes in his book “Education of a Wandering
Man” (Bantam), “Education is available to anyone within reach of
My fellow copywriter and FB friend DG says:
“I’m a public library guy and I also buy books. I only read
paperbound books myself, and I’m already way out of room to store
the ones I have.”
Now, I understand the many reasons why people tell me they love
their Kindle readers. I just don’t find them personally
One of the big reasons people advocate Kindle is the ability to
easily carry dozens or hundreds of books with them wherever they
But since I almost never go anywhere, there’s no benefit to me.
And in those rare instances when I do travel, one thick paperback
is enough to get me through the round-trip flight.
There are legions of people who just love paperbound books as
physical objects: the feel, the look, even the smell and feel of
I’m one of them. And Kindle takes that all away from me.
As the author of more than 90 books from mainstream publishing
houses, one of my greatest rewards is holding my published
hardcover or paperback book in my hand — and putting a few
copies in our bookcase.
Holding electrons in my hands just doesn’t give me that same
pride of authorship.
(Similarly, I get much more of a charge holding a magazine with
my article in it than I do seeing my article on some website.)
Another big advantage of physical books is the venues where I get
them: bookstores, libraries, and used book catalogs, my favorite
of which is Edward R. Hamilton, though Bas Bleu and Daedelus are
not far behind. (Especially Bas, because they often carry my
When you are in a library or a bookstore, or thumbing through a
book catalog, you encounter all sorts of books, information, and
subjects that you otherwise would never have thought about
Yes, this can also happen online
But in a bookstore or library, with the actual book in front of
you, the compulsion to browse is, for me, even greater than
online. And yes, like so many people, I like web surfing.
Now, you may be thinking that I am a hypocrite, because I
publish, sell, as well as read PDF ebooks.
But when I buy a PDF ebook, I don’t read it on a screen. I print
it out, put it in a 3-ring binder, and read it has a hard copy
And I suggest to my PDF ebook buyers that they do the same.
Although, of course, they are free to read it on a screen if they