Recently, upon walking into the Layton Barnes & Noble, I was surprised by some remodeling. The center of the store, formerly occupied by displays of bestselling paperbacks, had been turned into a gigantic advertisement for the company's Nook e-reader.
Instead of the latest dystopia, a plastic display filled the room in which children and adults were busy testing the capabilities of the Nook by playing "Angry Birds."
To me, there is something wrong with this image. E-readers have enough promotion; Barnes & Noble has invested in many television advertisements for the Nook, though I've never seen them produce a book trailer. This building, this physical, brick-and-mortar store, is the domain of real books. Let them have it. Do not let the e-books intrude on this place that should be the sphere of paper and ink.
I will admit that e-readers have their place. After all, it's much more convenient to take a Nook or Kindle on vacation than to lug along a physical copy of "Gravity's Rainbow"; as a bonus, without a book cover, no one will know if you're really reading that weighty work of literature or a cheap romance novel. But if you drop your print beach read into the ocean, you'll probably be able to fish it out and dry the pages. Not so with an e-reader.
So what if an e-reader is less of a fire danger than a houseful of books ... so what if the books can still be accessed if your house does burn down with your e-reader inside? Because this, of course, is what everyone is most concerned about when their dwelling goes up in flames, right?
So what if you can read more than 33,000 e-books for free with Project Gutenberg? All right, there are few logical, objective reasons for objecting to e-readers. I have only subjective, illogical, messy reasons to explain my knee-jerk reaction to seeing the Nook display take over Barnes & Noble.
No one's ever inherited an e-reader their great-grandmother owned and wondered how she felt about the story. No one cares about the first edition of an e-book. No one's ever trembled with excitement at having their e-book signed. No one has ever spotted a tiny book shop they never noticed before and pulled over at once to take a look at the e-books. No one strokes the spine of an e-reader or falls asleep with one under their pillow.
No one has ever delighted in a Saturday morning spent rearranging their e-books. No one's ever gone to the library and breathed in the scent of an old e-reader with yellowing pages. No one's ever purchased a secondhand e-book with an old bookplate inside and thought about the previous owner. No one has ever ripped open a gift and shouted, "Yes! I've been wanting this e-book forever!"
Somehow, a gift card can't engender quite the same excitement, and a large library of e-books doesn't create the same feeling of awe and reverence as an immense brick-and-mortar library. No one tips their head back to look at the top shelves of an electronic library or climbs a stepladder to access that wonderful e-book they can't quite reach. No one will ever look at an electronic picture book they loved as a child and see the tiny fingerprints on much-worn pages or the faint teeth marks in the binding.
The highest-resolution screen in the world will never give the same feeling as an illuminated manuscript. No one has ever taken a tour of a publishing company and marveled at the mighty presses turning out e-readers. It may be illogical, but I prefer real books.
Angelica Previte is a junior at Weber High School and an inveterate bibliophile. She can be contacted at email@example.com.