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High Praise for the Humble Paperback Book! Digital Books Versus the Paperback

In a world that is addicted to the power of technology, and a digital cyber-world that demands our attention, where we are compelled to work and play almost at the speed of light, the book invites us to curl up in our favourite chair, turn off the incessant mobile phone and enjoy a good yarn.I cannot envision my life without books, especially the paperback book. The humble book, whether it be a collection of short stories or a complex novel, have been to me, as Amos Bronson Alcott so aptly described, “books are… the best of companions, accessible at any moment… [and they] reward me with their company” (Concord Days 1872, p. 133).Books provide me with an opportunity to utilize my imagination. They invite and entice me to embark on cost-free journeys to undiscovered realms and have enlarged my vocabulary. Books of all genres have had a profound influence on me and have instilled a great love of the written word and a passion for writing. I have no need for pictures or illustrations, for the words and my imagination alone conjure up the necessary images, to visualize the scenarios contained within the pages.From a young age I delved into my Nana’s bookshelf and began to explore mature age articles in the Reader Digest, starting with the humorous section, “Mere Male”, and then onto the “Real Life” story. I then started working my way through autobiographies such as: Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place.Above all, my favourite books were: The Anne of Green Gables series, The Narnia Chronicles, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and The Lord of the Rings. My bookshelf still includes some of these titles, and I find myself going back and reading them again and again and still they captivate me.My latest literary rambles have taken me into the world of the likes of Josephine Cox, whose novels are predominately set in Blackburn, England, in the 1800′s. I have spent many hours with the engaging characters of Joy Fielding, the very down to earth and hilariously eventful novels of Sophie Kinsella, and have been riveted by the thrilling, nail-biting suspense of James Patterson – just to name a few.As well as fiction, I have read other works of literature, in order to understand the world of the past. When I attended university, I added books of academia to my literature repertoire, which have enriched my life in ways that a book of fiction cannot. I have enjoyed reading books on art, music and history, but my book of choice has always been a work of fiction.A story is a work of art in itself and the interest in story-telling is universal, whether it is a child discovering the delights of a book for the first time or an adult watching a movie, the time-tested practice of story-telling is intrinsic to how we communicate and are entertained.During my short stint in youth work, I came across young people who had never read a book of any kind. Literature was like a word from a foreign language and if they were ever tempted to read a book, it would have to contain pictures like a graphic novel or comic book. But it seemed that their attention span did not reach beyond the email, or the mobile phone text.As this world seems to shrink from globalization, and conversation is fast becoming limited to Facebook and Twitter – how does the paperback book compete? I also wonder what the future holds for our libraries, but every now and then my faith is renewed when I visit my local library and see people of all ages still reading and borrowing ‘real’ books.I believe that reading literature is essential to our personal development and for our understanding of the world around us, and can ultimately serve as a conduit to understanding ourselves. Literature has the power to influence and affect people’s lives in a myriad of ways and one of the most defining influences is the level of interaction a paperback book invites as opposed to the type of reading that takes places on the Internet.Although those bright and shiny portable electronic devices are threatening to overtake the traditional paperback book format, there are advantages to this rampant digitization. If you are sight-challenged, digital media offers super-sized font and backlit screens. You can download multiple books, which will never be in danger of being written on or damaged, unless you drop your e-reader in water!But ultimately my vote will still be for the humble paperback book. Within its smooth crisp pages, you can immerse yourself in a rip-roaring adventure with your favourite hero or enjoy a romantic tear-jerker without being distracted by an email popping up in the background – demanding an instant answer.Despite the fierce competition between digital books and the humble paperback, the most important thing is that we continue reading books. And by reading, the book will continue to live on as an essential commodity in our culture.Reference:Alcott Bronson Amos 1872, Concord Days, Roberts Brothers. Boston. U.S.A.