There's just something about the equal parts paper, glue and binding that make up that old book smell.
Running our hands along weathered spines; pulling out the ones with intriguing titles; examining them and either pushing them back into the carved-out shelf space or carefully selecting them as precious cargo to take with us on a journey, from our hands to our backpacks to our messy desks and grassy fields. The book travels with us.
And yet, this may occur no longer when we choose to read a digital copy of a book. Instead, it travels with us only on some other electronic device, requiring the presence of battery life and account information. Though the statistics say the number of sold print books has steadied, the number of sold e-books is rapidly increasing from year to year (more than 4,000 percent since 2008) and looks to continue this "Fahrenheit 451"-esque trend.
Oftentimes on the first day of class it is automatically included in our syllabi whether or not we may bring digital copies of our books to class. Some professors remain purists, prohibiting laptops and permitting only physical copies of books. Others tend to let the students decide, with the cheapest option usually prevailing.
If you ever even end up cracking it open, the form in which you choose to consume your textbook is perfectly up to your preference. But as for the leisure, pleasure, and entertainment reading that you may do, I implore you – pick up a real life copy of the book.
Lovingly caress the pages, scribble little notes in the margins about the things that move you or bring tears to your eyes or remind you of another great work. Get in a relationship with the book and develop an emotional attachment.
Great books, or rather the great stories within the pages, have the power to change our lives. They become part of who we are and who we dream to be. We take the little pieces of them and incorporate this and that until this quote or that character or this location we have always wanted to visit is part of us too. Let the book carry the sand from your Florida beach trip, or the stain and smell of peeling an orange and eating it. Leave the smeared tear stains as proof you could not stop reading long enough to cry.
In this modern era (as I type these very words in the middle of the night on my iPhone in a sudden flash of eloquence), I am also fully divided between the new and the old – the technology with its ability to never lose a page, or to look up the smallest unknown word – and then the print with really only its authenticity to give. Yes, e-books provide convenience, cost less and do not weigh down our backpacks, but print books allow us to hold in our very own hands a tangible experience that can and has become part of our personal story.
And in the end that's what I love about print books – the experience. In a time when more and more experiences are relegated to the sphere of a computer screen or a phone image, the deeply personal experience of reading should be preserved. Holding an actual book and getting lost in the story is an important escape for our lives. And there is nothing like turning the physical pages, free of the worry of interruption by push notifications, emails or low battery signals. Everything you need is already right there in front of you.
So the next time you want to buy a book, think about what it is you are wanting to buy – is it simply a book, or a relic of a certain time in your life?
Plus, no one can ever dream of having "Beauty and the Beast" style libraries in their future homes with digital books – or maybe that's just me.
Victoria Knight is a senior in microbiology. She can be reached at email@example.com.