Sunday, August 25, 2019

There Are Some Books I Can't Convert To Digital

The trick, when rifling through the library of a practitioner, is to find the books with the notes written in the margins.
 - "Foxglove Summer" by Ben Aaronovich

There are a few reasons why I haven't converted fully to digital books. Writing notes in the margins is one. It's one of the more intentional personalizations you can make on a book that few ebook readers support.

When I was younger, aside from folding over corners, I was very delicate with my reading material. I still maintain that when reading borrowed books (not the folding over corners; I have scraps of paper for that). But more so as of late--especially in the last decade, where things that I read spark things I may want to write--making notes, highlighting, underlining... all manner of marking happens to my books. Yes, many ebook readers support highlighting, but they don't export the selections, so if you shared the book with someone, you can't share your notes and marks too.

There's plenty to be said about the smell of books, though when you've owned them as long as I've owned most of mine, they lose that "new book smell," and just smell like your room. Especially if you cook with smelly spices near your books. (I love my garlic.)

There's also this thing that well-read and well-loved books do that I've never seen nor heard an ebook reader trying to emulate (but if you find one, please tell me!). The binding has a memory. Pages that I usually skip over are stiffer, pages I reread many times are softer, and it's easy to find my favorite passages because the book can just fall open to them.

I see no reason why this last matter would be difficult to program into an ebook reader (combine a counter for each page of the number of times you've looked at it, and use a weighted RNG to turn to a random page), but I doubt it's something many people are looking for. And those that would are more than happy to stick to paper and ink.

I do get more of my reading done these days through ebooks, just because it's mostly easier to carry around; I always have my phone, and a veritable library of my own waiting. In lieu of making notes in the books, I make note separately, and instead of saving highlights, I take screenshots and upload them to a gallery called "Saved Pages." The quote above came from a page in that gallery.

And if I need to pass the time somewhere I can't have my phone, I usually have a Mouse Book in one of my pockets.