I enjoy reading, and I enjoy books. However, I became a librarian not because I “love books”. It was 1993, and I was interested in the emerging Internet.

That being said, like a stubborn mule digging into the trail and refusing to be moved, the eBook revolution has failed to move me, and I find myself perhaps, yes perhaps, loving books.
Remember about 15 years ago, when you would go to someone’s home and see their music on the shelf? Has it been more than 15 years? Whatever. Maybe you didn’t know the person that well, but man, that record and tape collection told you a lot about them. You knew when you saw that Huey Lewis and the News album in your date’s collection of cassette tapes, right next to the Footloose soundtrack,  that it was time to get the fuck outta there. The music collection was a crystal clear window into that person’s soul, empty as it might be, and those horrible albums were the equivalent of today going into your date’s place and seeing a prominently and proudly displayed and lovingly framed poster of Tim Tebow or a Certificate of Godliness from the Baptist Student Union. 
But no longer. In most homes, including mine, you will be hard-pressed to find a single recorded musical artifact on display. It’s all on the computer, on the iPod, or “in the Cloud”. Oh sure, we have a bunch of CDs. They’re all in boxes in the garage, their contents transferred to our computers. I can’t tell you the last time I purchased a CD. No, sadly, I simply conveniently download music from iTunes, where my musical tastes are analyzed by the latest algorithm and I’m told that because I purchased a Bad Brains album from the 1980s that I might also want to buy Men Without Hats.

Books are the same way. They tell you what  people’s interests are, what kind of stuff they think about, perhaps what their political or religious opinions might be. Do they read for entertainment (science fiction, romance, mystery, etc), or to be informed and enlightened (A Brief History of Time, Cosmos)? Or perhaps they  read to be misinformed/uninformed (Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and other idiots).

So if you come to my home, and you find our “library”, you will see our interests, passions, and concerns. You may see a book on Mexican culture, or a stack of them, on the kitchen table as my wife works on a paper. You may find a book of punk literature by Henry Rollins by my chair, a book of skateboarding photography, or maybe a history of Aikido. The books  help make the house “ours”. They are serve their intended purpose, but also serve an aesthetic purpose. They are physical reminders that we are more than just America’s Funniest Home Videos viewers.

Now, take all those books, and put them in the computer for display on an eReader, and you have killed all that. You have gained some portability, of course. Oh sure, you can take hundreds of books with you on a trip if you need to do so, but really, how often is that? What is this obsession with having all our shit with us all the time? I can understand it with music, but books?

I have a lot of other issues with eBooks, but I won’t go into them.

So, as a librarian I must be competent with the new technology. That’s fine. I see its good points. They are a good option for reading. Trees don’t die (at least not directly) from their manufacture. They don’t take up much room. They are good for reference material. And if you are on a business trip in Outer Mongolia, and need some new reading material, the people in that yurt in the neighboring valley might have satellite internet so you can download the complete works of Dostoevsky.

Soon I will begrudgingly join the eBook club, but I will not join the cult, because I’ve never been unable to read because my book wasn’t charged up. 

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