In the interest of full disclosure, I should disclaim that I work at a book bindery. Having thus provided that information, I want to share with you some thoughts garnered from my unique perspective in support good old-fashioned books!
1) Paper and board bound-books are made by hand or by machines and hands in concert. Then, they are sold and held by hands, sometimes enscribed by hands bearing ink. Books are passed from older hands to younger hands, from friends’ hands to friends’ hands, and from mentors’ hands to apprentices’ hands. They are enscribed with messages of love, fidelity, friendship and memory. These make books very special objects, with a heritage and sometimes a sacred quality.
I have seen books of all kinds brought for repair at the book bindery: Bibles with family trees or personal notes, daily reading books with inscriptions from deceased loved ones on the inside cover and professional reference books with detailed notes from one’s passion and profession. There is nothing in the world that can replace such personal relics. (Certainly, no piece of tech gadget!)
2) If we move away from paper books do we also move away from our authors? What happens to the book signings and autographed copies we gain from face-to-face connections during book readings and book signings? I feel as though we, as a society, underestimate what is lost when we move increaingly into a digital world and increasingly leave paper behind. I observe this in the dwindling number of cards and letters I have to store as much as I do in trying to figure out how I could write a note on the inside of an e-book cover.
I will close with a hypothesis, namely, that I believe if we literally lose touch with our trees then we will cease to value them, even in nature. It is a bold statement, but ultimately I think paper books help us to recall the Giving Tree, and in doing so bring to mind the inherent value of trees and forests. Certainly, landowners who preserve forest land and tree farms for paper and wood industries will value the trees far less if they bring in no income and that land will be sold to developers for shopping centers and suburban cookie-cutter homes.
So, in conclusion let me just say, if you are thinking about giving me a gift, know that I have an Amazon wishlist and I hope you add a personal note on the inside cover!