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Random Thoughts About Whatever Comes to Mind


It's no secret that I'm a book addict. Anyone doubting that has only to walk through our house searching for a room without bookshelves or bookcases. My special weakness is the old book - doesn't have to be a classic, can be fiction or nonfiction, may be either pristine or "with issues", could be gilt-stamped leather or worn cloth - about some esoteric topic. Admittedly, I've got the usuals in antiquarian books - Gibbon's Decline and Fall, DeFoe's Robinson Crusoe, Pepys's Diaries, etc. But I've also got Gail Hamilton's 1874 book Twelve Miles From A Lemon, Charles Dudley Warner's My Summer In A Garden, and so on. Reading in hardback and paperback books, whether from the shelves at home or during my earliest expeditions to the "big" library downtown, contributes to the fondest memories of my childhood. Yet, save for a handful of coffee-table books, I haven't read a "real" book - that is, one generated by a mechanical process and delivered on paper between covers - in years.


There are many reasons I love ebooks, but the most powerful has to do with gutters. Not the kind that channel and divert rain but the kind that form the inside margins of book pages. Whether conscious choice to save money or as a type of aesthetic statement, designers and printers of "real" books have for years presented us with gutters so stingy that it's often necessary to break the spine of the book to read the entire line to the end.


I'll continue to enjoy my old books as they sit on my shelves. I'll still buy the books that need printed presentation - photography collections, for example. As for new books simply to read, give me ebooks with parameters I can set myself.


Some of my equally book-obsessed friends and acquaintances brand me traitor for this admission, which concedes that the point of a book, especially one being read for information purposes, is to deliver its content in as efficient a manner as possible. I love the beauty of my "real" books, but ebooks are easier and more fun to read. Which I guess dooms me to book perdition. So be it.