Sense-ible books

The ultimate bookmobile? Image courtesy of Atlantida, Morguefile.

The ultimate bookmobile? Image courtesy of Atlantida, Morguefile.

In the blogging world, I’ve seen many bloggers talk about their Kindles and their Nooks. I’ve entertained the idea of getting an e-reader someday. It seems practical. Lots of books stored in one convenient electronic device which you can tote anywhere you like — to work, to the gym, around the house or on vacation. Maybe I’ll get one sometime.

But I have a special place in me for real books. I was at my favorite lakeside bookstore last weekend and I happened to enter the store at the same time as two other people. One had been there before but the other hadn’t, and she remarked that she liked the smell of the books there. I happened to say that topic would make a great blog post (which is why I’m writing this now) and the three of us got into a wonderful conversation about books, blogging and other subjects.

Books have different scents, have you noticed? There is the fresh smell of new paper from a book that’s recently come from the publisher and the aged smell of books that you’ve owned for a while and read frequently. Some books get that mildewy smell if they’ve been mistreated by storage in too-damp conditions (Arrrgh! Call the Book Police!) or may even get their own smells if food’s been dropped on them (whoops).

You could even make the case that books are a feast for all five senses. The art with a book appeals to our eyes — I’ve often picked a book to read based on its cover art, inner illustrations (think Tasha Tudor of several children’s classics or Garth Williams, artist for the Laura Ingalls Wilder books) or luscious photos. I’ve also seen richly decorated books with gilded edges in the bookstore and yearned to possess them. Audiobooks read by famous actors appeal to our sense of hearing (the resonant British voice of Richard Armitage reading North and South…. Ahhhh…..) and some books are even specially designed to fit comfortably in the hand (according to the publisher of one book I own).

And somebody’s even found ways to create edible books. Yeah! If they have chocolate, I am SO there. Pass the whipped cream, will you?




Filed under Writing

47 responses to “Sense-ible books

  1. I think if you let yourself experience an e-reader, you will be writing a retraction. LOL! Or at least a partial retraction. When you enter the world of e-books, it’s stunning what your senses will encounter. Obviously, I’m biased, but a few years ago, I felt exactly as you describe in this post. Signed, the converted. : D

    • If I ever get an e-reader, I’m gonna have to blog about it…I see the blog post coming….

      • I look forward to that! But also know that I love hard copy books as well and own literally thousands of them. My husband never thought he would like an e-reader until our kids bought one for him. Now we can’t get him to put it down. Of course there are hard copies we will never part with because they are like members of the family.

  2. I don’t think you would regret an ereader. I like mine. Of course there is nothing like hard copy books but ebooks are also enjoyable.

    You mention how some books smell differently because food has been dropped in it. Chocolate? πŸ™‚

  3. I love real books and still, even having donated and rehomed hundreds (thousands?) of them, we still have more than fit in the space available. For me and for many who have been growing book collections for a lifetime, there comes a moment of truth. NO MORE ROOM. It doesn’t stop me from buying the occasional first edition of a beloved author, but most books are digital — audio and print. I have no space for more anything. Not clothing, furniture, books, art, pottery, people or animals. We are full! No vacancy!!

  4. Great minds whirring in the same direction once again–I was parsing together a post about the sensory aspect of books compared to e-books. Well, I still might do so even though you (again) wordsmithed so well I am remiss to try. Plus you snuck chocolate in!

  5. MakeSomethingMondays

    I had the same dilemma. I love the feeling and smell of real books. BUT I love my Kindle. It makes life easier. Although, I now carry my Kindle with me and read physical books before I go to bed. It is kind of depressing but I just can’t let go of the real thing.

    • Nice. Your comment reminds me of this really funny cartoon I once saw. Something about how you know you’ve been using your e-reader too long when you get into bed and realize that the physical book isn’t backlit like the e-reader.

      • MakeSomethingMondays

        Ha! That is very true!!! It is kind of like a shock to your system. I prefer it that way though, I stare a computer screen all day so that off-white page is pretty appealing to me at the end of the day.

  6. I like the dead tree version of books as well. I just got a UPS delivery of 35 copies of my book… time for direct marketing…

  7. Even with an e-reader, there are still certain books I must have in hard copy, that will always need to be visible to me on my bookshelf. I won’t deny the convenience of being able to travel with a stack of books in my hand and not having the angst of having to decide which book or books I can bring when space is limited! Plus, I have a couple magazine subscriptions on the nook now that I consider more eco-friendly, rather than reading and tossing week after week. But something is missing when you don’t hear that satisfying crack of a new binding being opened for the first time!

  8. I have to agree there’s nothing like the feel and smell of real books! I still buy them but I also have an android tablet and use the Cool reader ap and download books from Project Gutenberg this allows me to carry a vast array of books to read if I like the book then I try to find the book in print to add to my collection.

  9. I follow the energy. I am always let down when my insides don’t do the ‘tingle’. The books with the tingle, that I ignore or can’t afford, always randomly come back to me in some form. That’s a different kind of sense, for me.

  10. travelrat

    There’s probably room for both at the moment. The Kindle certainly has it for reading on the move; I was in the doctor’s surgery the other day, & there were at least 4 ereaders being used in the waiting room.

    There’s still a place for the ‘dead tree’ book, though … especially if it’s picture-heavy. And, I still won’t leave my Kindle at a poolside or a beach while I go for a swim.

    HOWEVER … it seems like only yesterday, I said that about film cameras; now, apart from a TLR I use rarely, I’m wholly digital now.

    (You might care to check out some of my ideas on the subject at )

  11. I like the riffle of pages. I need the riffle, I think.

  12. I prefer real books. I hope there will always be a place for them.

    • There will be, I think. The market has widened to include new technology such as e-readers but unless we run out of trees, I believe we’re good.

      • It’s not that physical books will disappear, but they will become more expensive as their numbers decrease. For the last year or so, I have been in the process of acquiring books I had always wanted to own but never felt the urgency. I feel it now because I don’t want to pay four fortunes for them.

  13. I bought a basic reader a few years, then upgraded to a Nook tablet. Then I gave the basic reader to a nephew. Then his sister gave me a Kindle Fire because she upgraded to a mini tablet. I loved them all. Great for traveling, as you can load lots of books. The tablets are not that great outdoors, whereas the basic model is fine. But a man must have his gadgets. My I-phone is too small to comfortably read books with.

    But sadly, I miss the used book store. And sales at the Barnes and Noble store across from my office. Not many bargains for the e-readers. I can’t wait for them to fail so I can browse the used book stores, and sale aisles at BnN. My discount card at BnN doesn’t work on the tablet, only in the store. The e-readers are devices that make you purchase e-books at inflated prices, and may force actual, real stores out of business

    Right now, I’ve two books started: one paperback and one e-book. Torn between two worlds.

    • I like used bookstores and their bargains too. Two of my favorite stores had a cat curled up in the sunny front window to increase the coziness of the place. I loved that.

    • I really miss used book stores. I live in the boonies now, and we have none. I also know the ones in the cities are radically on the wane. Some of my fondest memories are trolling my favorite stores for a treasure. Years ago I lived in Dallas when Half-Price Books opened its first store. They converted a laundromat but barely. There were still some dryers mounted on the wall, and they kept the folding tables and clothes carts. I ADORED that place and have some of my most loved books from there. When they eventually branched out, all of their stores were cheap rental spaces barely converted to a bookstore, so each one was a unique experience. But running through them all was a great love of books evidenced by the people who worked there. They were all knowledgeable — unlike most of the people I used to encounter at Barnes and Noble. I was never more sad than to see HP go to something slicked up for the general consumer’s consumption.

      Here’s another favorite, which thankfully is still in existence. I visit there every chance I get ’cause I don’t want them to go away.

  14. I love the feeling of the paper, I play with edges of a page, I use a book as a note keeper, hide phone numbers or rainy day money in my books.
    I can buy my books used so I am able to read as fast as I want to. My used books are slowly disappearing and has slowed my reading way down.
    I have a 3G Kindle and it is very nice. The batteries stay charged for a long time. The ebooks are costly. Sale prices are high and I have had to learn to pace my reading.
    I do love the feeling of a paperback tucked into my handbag, like a security blanket.
    This subject saddens me, I miss my used books.

  15. I found a treasure at Value Village. I am devouring this book and getting that tingle someone else wrote about. While sharing some of it with my husband he found it available for his Nook and downloaded. He gave me a fancy Nook (replacing my old one) for Christmas. To be honest, I haven’t gotten into the habit of using my Nook (either of them) despite all of their advantages. And I can never find portions I want to reread on the Nook as quickly as I can on hard copy. But, I do hope to get with the program some time soon and make my Nook worth the dollars spent on it.

  16. I own both an e-reader and physical books, and more often than not I find myself reaching over to the latter and totally forgetting about the former. Even today I went and purchased five new paperbacks! There’s just something irresistible about them.

  17. I won a Kindle Fire this year and both like and don’t like it. Have always loved the “feel” of real books, and the sense that you can easily finger through the whole book from page 1 to the end, and back. In a Kindle, it’s much less easy. However, since we live so far from a book store, it is a pleasure to be able to buy a book on Saturday evening. I also like the Kindle Fire for watching movies, checking email, Facebook, etc. It is not fun to type on it. Forget about writing a blog. Good luck with what you decide, Editor.

  18. Maybe it’s because where I live (and everything/one is 20 years behind the curve), but the paperback version of my book is selling as well or better than the Kindle version. Go figure! I like my Kindle for different reason than I like a paper version of a book. They each have their place in my reading world.

  19. I too am a mad lover of books – the look of a book, the feel of pages between the fingers, the power in their words — edible – hummmmm – not so sure. Still old school.

  20. I was given a Kindle as a gift, tried desperately to fall in love with it, and just… couldn’t. It didn’t feel like reading without the scent of paper and the weight of pages in my hand! My husband ended up adopting it, and he loves that it literally replaces pounds of books when we travel.
    By the way, Demeter Fragrance makes a scent called “Paperback!” Like the Kindle, I really wanted to like it & walk around smelling like old book (is that weird?) but it was a little too sweet for me. Maybe something to scent the eReader with if/when you decide to get one!


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s