Bound in the pages of a book

The smell of aging paper took over my senses the second I smelled the book. This is the best part of an old book; it is a wonderful smell. The worn out hardback cover had seen better days with scartches on it and the corners bent inward. The paper itself was delicate and thin, threadlike even. This soul work has been enjoyed by many others through different times, different homes and places, and so this is a tiny piece of history.

By Jenna VanHoof

The smell of aging paper took over my senses the second I smelled the book. This is the best part of an old book; it is a wonderful smell.  The worn out hardback cover had seen better days with scratches on it and the corners bent inward. The paper itself was delicate and thin, threadlike even. This soul work has been enjoyed by many others through different times,  different homes and places, and so this is a tiny piece of history.

Now, wouldn’t you like your own child or grandchild to experience this? To smell the old book, to hold it in their small hands with awe and discover a new mystery?

I asked someone what they think if the next generation of children didn’t have old novels to enjoy and their answer was this, “They will lose the appreciation that someone used to type each and every word on a type writer with real ink and bind them together. That is art and history combined.”

Print books are dying off, it is a sad but true fact. There were around 280 million dollars in e-book sales while hardcover came to around 220 million in 2012, both were adult. If that was just the adult e-book section, think of how much more money they are making.Teen fiction is even more popular because this is the generation of technology. Print publications are dropping off the planet and readers should be worried.

The magical property about print books is you can share them with friends and family, you don’t have to charge them, you can feel the texture of the cover and paper, and you always know you can relive the enchanting tale. That  novel will be forever yours, sitting on your  shelf and maybe one day be passed down to your kids and get that enjoyable  old book aroma.

I asked a friend about what the best thing about a paperback or hardback is and she told me, “for me holding the book makes it more realistic, like I can emerge myself in the book and see  the characters in the actual scene.”

My take as a writer is that I can become absorbed in the book while holding it and I don’t have to worry about a dying battery. The emotions of the characters are the next thing that get me and holding the publication, like the quote above, you can see the characters in the scene. When a writer is good enough they can make you feel so emotionally attached, you are right there with them.

I asked another friend if they liked print books or e-books and they explained this: “Print books. I haven’t read many e-book but print is easier on my eyes and I like to actually hold the real thing if that makes sense. Like flipping through the actual story, I guess flipping through the pages of a book because you’re excited about what is next in the adventure of the book you’re reading. You’re physically turning it instead of virtually.”

What would the youth be missing if they didn’t have print books? They would miss the turning of the pages, like said in the above quote, or holding the book even. The smoothness of the cover or even that “new book smell” won’t be enjoyed anymore by someone who has never experienced this.

I asked one of my friends this same question and she said, “I’ve gotten a few of my books signed by the author and you can’t do that with e-books!”

I agree completely. A digital signature isn’t the same as a real signature in a book and what about first edition copies? Those can’t be sold through digital format.

“The experience of the smells texture and even older stories that may never hit e-books…just the whole sense the book has to offer,” replied another person.

Another question asked the seven people I talked to is if they preferred e-books, print books or both. Five preferred print, one e-book, and one both – 71 percent preferred print books. This was only out of seven people though and the sales in e-books have gone through the roof. I asked people between the ages 16 to 36 and the two 16-year-olds voted print.

A friend told me when talking about her favorite part of print books, “We can all click a button, but to physically turn the page is to become a part of the book.”

Print books are magnificent parts of history and wonderful pieces of art. It takes someone who can weave words together, empty their souls (maybe even without showing what’s wrong) and turning characters into lovable and unforgettable roles that will be in the minds of people for years to come, all bound in the pages of a book.


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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
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