kobo and me

Karen Wang
November 15, 2012
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

when I open a book , be it a classic, a mystery, a sci-fi, or a romance, the world falls away. Everything goes quiet and there’s nothing but the pages before me. I no longer notice the room or the chair - hell, for a while I forget to breathe. All I have is the black print against the yellow page, and the touch of those pages under my fingertips.

The black print lifts off the page and becomes the characters laughing and arguing and growing. I can hear the strike of the clock on the night of the Partition of India and taste the butterbeer at The Three Broomsticks, feel the wrath of Heathcliff, the agony of Anna Karenina and the intensity of a lover’s spat between Elizabeth and Darcy.

As I read on, the physical condition of the books morphs with my habits and routines. I see traces of the coffee stain from when I was reading at My Dog Joe, and smell the scent that the pages readily absorbed from my perfume. In these small ways, books have become an integral part of my identity. They take on characteristics of my life as I weave my own life into the stories.

Of course, time passes, technology advances, and life is perpetually made easier. Progress shall never stay stagnant. So, our cozy books get an upgrade and are replaced overnight by a rigid little device with a battery life.

I received my Kobo Ebook as a gift from a family friend. I was frustrated: I can’t bend its corners or spill things on it. And let’s face it – it is never going to smell like me. I was also a little angry that this little black ‘book’ is supposed to replace the intimacy of print and paper. Like a stubborn centenarian, I refused to accept this change.

As with most technology, the reading device has its flaws, which, combined with my unwillingness to cooperate, made it easier to hate it – at least initially. Reading is not the same with digitized words, on an artificial white screen that my eyes can never fully adjust to. I will forever be annoyed when it refuses to highlight the last lines of every page, or when it malfunctions and become instead a book of illegible codes.

What it all comes down to, though, is convenience. And being one of the laziest people I know, I have - in time - despite its technical quirks, the “please charge me” notices, and its stubborn reluctance to open certain documents, grown unwillingly attached to this piece of technology. A simple tap of the fingers replaces the flip of the page. When I leave the house, I no longer have to debate painfully what I’d like to read on the subway that day. With just one little black ‘book’ I am equipped with a few hundred selections ranging from poetry to historical fictions. I can choose a book from the library without having to get out of my chair.

No one can deny that ebook-readers are convenient. But I can’t help reminisce about the moments we’re missing out on for convenience’s sake. Some of the best, most heartfelt moments of the entire reading experience are the times spent browsing through the BMV bookstore, when the allotted one hour accidentally turns into five.

The truth though, is that the books will always be there – the popularity of ebook-readers will never make bookstores obsolete. At the end of a long day, I can still go back to my easy chair under my comforters, snuggle with the yellowing pages and watch the black print come to life, fulfilling that book-shaped hole that a little black Kobo can never replace

 

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