For my generation, experience is everything. Perhaps it’s a product of the digital age, where so much is at our fingertips, but intangible. Perhaps it’s a product of our desperation to display what an amazing life we’re having on instagram. Perhaps it’s a product of our comparative wealth and being able to own things easily. It’s probably a mix of all these things and more, but the fact remains. Experience is King. We want to be somewhere, to hear something, feel, taste or see something ourselves. And that is why books aren’t going anywhere.
I recently joined bookstagram, the pretty huge corner of instagram habituated by people who take pictures of books. Sounds like it could be pretty boring right? But oh my gosh! My feed is flooded by pictures of books looking great, and I love it! But it’s because a physical book is more than a story holder.
Reading a book is an experience. It’s a smell, it’s a weight in your hands. It’s a journey of transfer of pages from your left hand to your right; a physical adventure and progression that unfolds as the story does. The fold of the book that creates a new space to inhabit with two convenient walls, taking up your vision and blocking out the world.
The cover; your portal into this particular escape. The feel of the paper, the design of the type, creating a framework for the imaginary world that your mind in conjunction with the author’s words create.
For some, the sensation of newness and stiffness becoming friendly and folded. Memories of last time you read it; wetted pages, crumbs, maybe even smells.
Perhaps I’m romanticising, but I think it’s true. My kindle is amazingly useful, but it’s just not the same getting a new book on there as having one arrive by post. They try to replicate these things, but it cannot work to the same extent.
Reading a book is a sensory experience. And that’s why we’re not giving it up.
The curious thing is, I’m sure that I’m right about this, but the same rule doesn’t seem to apply for newspapers. Even though reading a newspaper with a coffee is an ultimate morning experience, somehow it’s just not quite working. Perhaps reading the paper needs to be branded as a better experience? Get on it, newspapers!