Books, Real and Imaginary

I have long been a champion of eBooks.

Not that I had anything against “real” books, mind you. The only reason I got my first Kindle was that I’d run out of room for real books. I have at least one bookshelf in every room of my house, including the bathroom, and they are all full. If I bought a new book, I had to give a book away—and I didn’t want to give any more books away. Thus the Kindle.

Since that purchase (three Kindles later, now), I’m become a fan. More than that. I’ve become a devotee. As soon as it really sank in on me that I could carry thousands of books with me wherever I went, I was sold. I do almost all my reading, even magazines, on the Kindle.

An exception is books about Zen that I read on my cushion in the morning before meditation, for two reasons at least. One is that I’m usually re-reading a book I’ve long owned and two is that the heft of the physical book has always been an important part of the morning zazen experience. Swiping the screen of a Kindle just doesn’t quite fit with counting the breath.

That’s been just about the only exception.

But the thing about being so devoted to electronic devices for your reading is that you forget how many people still depend entirely on (or simply prefer) physical books. I’ve been reminded recently in the most pleasant way I could imagine: finally beginning to convert my own books to paperback and discovering that they’re selling more in that form than they ever did as eBooks.

What can I say? Zip-a-dee-doo-dah and Eureka!

My books will be sitting on the shelves of the local library and perhaps in the local bookstore. They’ll be given as gifts. People (at least one person) will ask me to sign them. They’ll be held in people’s hands and hopefully treasured and, if not, passed along as used books to someone who might enjoy them….

Plus, I find it’s really a kick to hold my own physical books in my hand and I do treasure them.

I’ll continue to do most of my reading on my Kindle because I still don’t want to give away any of my older books, but I think I’ll make a point of re-reading more of them just to have the pleasure that so many of my own readers can now have. And, of course, I can also go to that treasure house called the library for the same experience.

I will forever be a champion of books, physical and electronic and whatever may be yet to come. In point of fact: all books are real.

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