It’s World Book Day today. At least it is in the UK. The rest of the world marks World Book Day in April.

bookshelf_emptyOn World Book Day, my bookcase is empty.

It never used to be empty, but it is today, and in fact has been slowly emptying for the past couple of months as I take dusty tomes to the local charity shop to dispose of. Not all of them went to the charity shop, as I kept a few in the hope that they will get one last read, even though I know it wont happen.

A few reference books were kept for, well, reference purposes.

But the majority went – simply because I had a bookshelf piled up with books I wasn’t reading and wasn’t likely to read again. My tastes have changed, as has my eyesight.

The simple fact is that at the end of a day spent doing nothing but reading and writing, sitting down to read a book with tired eyes is a bit of a chore.

What has made reading slightly more pleasurable though was the Christmas delivery of an e-book reader. Suddenly I can change the font size from eye-strain to comfortable. The ebook device is the modern answer to the Victorian magnifying glass in letting people read in comfort.

There is the secondary benefit that an e-book reader can hold a whole library of books within a paperback sized device.

I have a bookshelf, and it is empty – because the digital revolution has made it redundant.

The other fact is that I just dont read books that often. I like to relax by reading current affairs magazines, but that takes up most of the limited spare time at the end of the day I have, leaving no time for books.

And here is the curious thing – I read content of a quite high quality and so do for pleasure, but because it is packaged as a weekly periodical, it is not deemed to be on the same caliber as “a book”. I have been looked down upon for not reading books, even though my daily consumption of the written word is vast.

Indeed, quite a lot of the popular books that people hold up as “must reads” were often themselves originally printed as weekly short stories, and only later repackaged into book form. The repackaging of the same words from a weekly magazine into a book elevated those words from the mundane to the adulation accorded to “the book”.

My bookcase is empty and the wooden carcass is itself soon to be sent to the knackers yard. I wont miss it. But I suspect that visitors to the flat might wonder why I don’t own a bookcase.


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  1. Terry Adams says:

    It’s interesting how bookshelves/cases are perceived in peoples houses and how quite often it seems that they’re used to try to present a certain appearance to visitors.

    I do like skimming bookshelves when visiting friends to see if there’s anything that grabs my interest but do quite often spot a few books that I wonder whether they’re there because of interest or there because say a Jeremy Clarkson book would be too common!

    I’m just about to move house and thus my bookshelves and their contents will be packed up. Almost certainly they’ll get unpacked in a different order and probably a different subset will get put on show but I ponder to myself is it worth it.

    I lament the loss of physical books because you can’t skim the contents of a friends ereader to see what interests you/them. However I’m no dinosaur, I find myself predominantly using one myself nowadays so quite a few of the reasons you give.

    For me, the killer is that my particular ereader of choice provides an app for my computer, my phone and my tablet. All keeping progress synced thus regardless of where I am if I fancy a quick read I can easily continue the current book rather than trying to parallel read multiple books.

    The only physical books I tend to buy now are books for my little boy – at just under 2 years, he’s got a fair way to go before an ereader will stand up to his vandalistic ways!

  2. Roger Gann says:

    E-readers are undoubtedly great for novels, once you can get past the small matter of pricing parity with their printed equivalents. Unfortunately for me, most of the books I buy these days are large format, with plenty of illustrations and pix. And in colour. And that’s where e-readers fail for me.

  3. Carl says:

    Since I started to use my iPad as an eBook reader (several different formats) Ihave rediscovered some ancient classics that have become readable. My Dickens are doorstopper size in font 8!
    But a paper book likea plastic cd makes a better gift and my old books are likeold friends.

  4. jecadebu says:

    I appreciate people who say they love the feel of paper, but my aging eyes appreciate the font flexibility of my e-reader much more. And as the population of baby boomers, perhaps the last generation of voracious readers, confront eye problems as they age, the e-reading devices, ever more sophisticated in their technology, are the future of publishing.

  5. Minki says:

    Just can’t quite bring myself to part with books. I’m a paperback nut and love nothing more than delving into a well thumbed novel for the umpteenth time. Even bookies I know have said that they can quite happily enjoy both, some have said they will never go back (a bit like musos and their MP3s) but I can’t quite let go. I have Kindle reader on my phone and still have books I’ve downloaded but never read. I need more persuading. (and lessons in how NOT to be such a hoarder!)

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