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A couple of weeks ago I received the latest issue of the magazine of the Society of Young Publishers and there, almost at the end, I found an article on the joys and sorrows of ebook readers. I have to admit, I had been thinking of buying one for a couple of months, but I just couldn’t make a decision. There were at least ten different devices on the market, all with different features: touch, no touch, color or simple ink, one that would allow me to be able to pay my rent or one that would let me call my mom for an emergency cash injection. I was in a digital limbo.
Then my father called me and said he was coming to London for work, and could he stay at my place?
So he arrived on a rainy Tuesday and we went for dinner at a nice restaurant with Wi-Fi, and there I saw it: The Tablet. To make a long story short I persuaded him I would borrow it just for the week he would be in town. Finally, there I was, with a chance to enter the digital era and save my bookshelves from cracking. I downloaded every free ebook I could find and started reading Wuthering Heights. I hope Bronte’’s ghost will not haunt me forever if I say that I had never read it before.
I read about 10 pages and I loved it, but I just couldn’t continue. I was confused. There in my bed with my tea on my side, there were no pages, nothing that my brain could make sense of. Okay, maybe it’s just me. I am a bit of a control freak but I need to know I am not missing pages (I know this probably sounds mad), and I found myself looking at the page numbers every two seconds. I ended up just going through the whole book to be sure that I downloaded it correctly and that I would not find myself at midnight trying to rob a bookshop here in Stratford because I have to finish the book and I can’t download a good copy.
It was an unsettling experience. I missed the spilling of my tea all over my books because I can’t keep the book open with just one hand and my cup won’t stay in equilibrium on my legs. I missed the smell that new books have and the way I don’t have to worry about throwing them on the armchair because it could break.
In the end, I kept the Tablet hostage. I’m not sure my dad will see it any time soon. I mean, it was the first book I ever read digitally and I ought to give it another go. What book lover would I be if I ignored this big chunk of the market? What if in 20 years printed books are rare and there are no bookshops to rob if I don’t like to read on an eReader?
So I am going to go finish Wuthering Heights now, paper version with tea stains on its lovely perfumed cover. There will be time to get used to the digital copies – at least, I hope.