Perhaps you've noticed the newish button over to the right. And perhaps you've clicked it and discovered that it leads here, to this statement:
"We support the printed word in all its forms: newspapers, magazines and, of course, books. We think reading on computers or phones or whatever is fine, but it cannot replace the experience of reading words printed on paper. We pledge to continue reading the printed word in the digital era and beyond."
The Printed Word campaign, as I think of it, was started by two friends (this person and this person) and appears to be propagating quietly, blog by blog. (The latter conclusion was based on a quick Google search--I don't know if the campaign's founders or anyone else is formally measuring its reach.)
The irony of promoting the printed word via blogs is not lost on me. The very fact, however, that bloggers are behind the campaign is one reason it appeals to me. The book versus Kindle wars are nothing new; I like this pledge because it omits the "versus." Books (and magazines and newspapers), it says, can coexist happily with technology, so long as we don't forget their unique value.
For me, that value is partly sensory. I'm one of those bibliophiles who loves the physical book itself: the crispness of the paper, the colors of the binding, the design of the cover. A stack of books has a comforting presence. I enjoy the physical experience of reading books, snug in bed, a kitty curled against my side, time slipping away unnoticed as the pages slip by.
Author Eric Weiner contemplated the contrasts between books and e-books in a recent NPR story. Another bibliophile, he argues that books are special, asking, "Why else are we so careful not to bend their spines? Why else do we grant them honored space in our living rooms, our bedrooms?" He also makes the excellent point that electronic media is filled with distractions, "a noisy, crowded place, filled with sports stars and politicians and celebrities," and he concludes wistfully, "I'm afraid the reader might not even notice I'm there."
I like most technology. In fact, today I had a lively conversation with a good friend about the relative merits and uses of laptops, iPhones, Kindles, and the newly unveiled and unfortunately named iPad. Having run out of stuff to read halfway through a trip on more than one occasion, I appreciate how great an e-book reader would be for travel.
When it comes to reading in my day-to-day life, however, I will continue to reach for the books stacked on my nightstand or wedged into chronically full bookshelves or tucked into my bag. Nothing else compares.