Amazon boasts that “no paper, ink, or water are used in the production of electronic books” (such as their Kindle Ebook Reader). No paper, ink, or water? They find this something of which to boast? I practically nursed my kids on paper, ink, and water! Next to bread and wine, I can’t think of anything more essential to one’s basic sustenance. But, I suppose these pseudo-book devices have their perks.
One could probably read Peter Rabbit and Go, Dog, Go a thousand times and never have to worry about cracked binding, dog-eared pages, crayon markings, chocolate milk stains, cracker crumb impressions, or missing covers. And who would miss the lineny feel of paper? Or the inky-organic-pulpy-paper smell? And holding a smooth plastic case and touching a lightly glowing screen or blocky keypad has to be better than helping dimply little fingers master the tricky art of page-turning. Right? Well, quite frankly, I’m having a hard time conceiving of such a world.
As I spent this week unpacking and settling in our new home, I wrestled my way through the realization that I probably really didn’t need to unpack the Little Golden books or Dr. Seuss. My kids can all read on their own now. They’ve moved on, but not before leaving a literal paper trail of “book immodesty,” i.e., the state in which a book finds itself being publicly coverless. With books and people alike, nakedness is a sign of intimacy. “If it ain’t got a cover, it probably was a lover.”
I consoled myself (about my kids moving on) with the hope that someday I will be able to read these lovers to my grandchildren. We will cuddle up in my overstuffed chair, and surely my grandkids, idyllic creatures that they’re bound to be, will choose these treasures over a slick slice of story-in-a-box. They, too, will feed on paper, ink, and water. And then Grandma will go to her glowing screen and chunky keyboard and blog about it.