The Technology of Packaging Words: Digital vs. Print

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I have a book problem. Meaning because I love books, I have more than I probably can ever read, and yet I adore finding a new book, cracking it open and immersing myself in the story world. The hubster stated the other day that books should not be the ONLY decorating theme in our home, to which I replied, “Why the heck not?”

But I admit it is a problem, illustrated by these pics of my many, many bookshelves, from the spare and uncluttered one in the living room to the one actually jam-crammed inside a closet (just a sampling, I assure you). I could have one of those rooms with floor to ceiling shelves like the library of Downton Abbey (complete with a book-laden door that leads to the music room! Click link and scroll down for the picture) and STILL find more books I want to read. Don’t let him fool you, the hubster likes books too. Weighty tomes with weighty titles like The History of the World, Come Retribution, and Diseases of Animals, as well as Life of Pi and The Last Werewolf. My shelves, on the other hand, are a jumble (and I mean JUMBLE!) of romantic and historical fiction, history and biography, and writing craft books.

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And then there are my ebooks. I actually have a Kindle and an iPad (on which I have installed iBooks, Kindle, Nook, GooglePlay, AND Kobo apps). And the books are just as jumbled up there as they are on the shelves. Truth be known, I have a little stash of books in PDF on my computer too. All of which makes the argument of digital versus paper, for me, really about packaging. The MAGIC of a book is what is inside the package. Whether you open the cover or click on the icon, that’s just the delivery technology, the true innovation is the language itself.

If pressed, I would probably choose paper books as my story vehicle of choice, but only if I had unlimited shelf space–that decorating issue remains. With paper books, I feel a commonality with generations that have gone before me. I mean, Jane Austen held a book in her hand, opened it, and read the story contained therein. Just as I opened HER book, Pride and Prejudice, the other day and did the same. There was a time when people–humans–were NOT able to reach back in history and feel kinship with “book” readers. The printed word was new. A new technology, just like the digital book. But the STORIES, well, they were still around then, weren’t they?

Do you have a digital versus print preference for your reading? Or a shelf problem? Or a decorating theme you just can’t agree on? I’d love to hear about it…

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