People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, and not merely an electronic version, are in some sense mystics. We believe that the objects themselves are sacred, not just the stories they tell. We believe that books possess the power to transubstantiate, to turn darkness into light, to make being out of nothingness. We do not want the experience to be stripped of this transcendent component and become rote and mechanical. That would spoil everything.
. . . people . . . are free to download onto their e-readers books . . . But by doing so, by refusing to patronize bookstores and libraries, by refusing to expose themselves to the music of chance, they have purged all the authentic, noneclectronic magic and mystery from their lives. They have rolled over and surrendered to the machines.
I read these words in Joe Queenan’s One for the Books in a hardback, checked out from my library. But that’s only because the Kindle version is being sold for $11.99. Otherwise, I am both spoiled and surrendered.
(Also I should point out that my library has e-books. As do nine out of 10 public libraries.)