… on my travels round the house in search of just the right book for tonight, I passed so many reasons why the book works as well as it ever did. Tall thin reasons. Huge, heavy, illustrated ones. Small, neat, square hardbacks and pocket-sized paperbacks. Reasons with drawings, with photographs, with colour. Shiny ones. Matt ones. Cheap ones, expensive ones. Chunky ones. Some smell new, of paper and almost, but not quite, fresh ink. Some smell musty. Some have the signature of the author. A few are dedicated by the author, either to one of us or to someone unknown and long dead. Some have pencil marks scribbled in the margin – my own student hand in the Robinson edition of Chaucer, my daughter’s schoolgirl hand in A Tale of Two Cities, my aunt’s in Middlemarch and Jane Eyre, which she used to teach fifty years ago. … No one will sign an electronic book, no one can annotate in the margin, no one can leave a love letter casually between the leaves.
I love the book. I love the feel of a book in my hands, the compactness of it, the shape, the size. I love the feel of paper. The sound it make when I turn a page. I love the beauty of print on paper, the patterns, the shapes, the fonts. I am astonished by the versatility and practicality of The Book. It is so simple. It is so fit for its purpose. It may give me mere content, but no e-reader will ever give me that sort of added pleasure.
Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading From Home by Susan Hill