During my last few years in the grocery business, three words came out of my mouth besides the greeting to my customer, the cost of the order and “Thank you.”
Those other three words, though, were the ones that people asked if we heard in our sleep. No, fortunately, my dreams weren’t haunted by “Paper or plastic?” but I did get tired of asking the question. That’s why I and many of my coworkers made it a point to remember what our frequent customers preferred.
What I’m here to talk about this time isn’t bags. It’s books – paper or plastic. In other words, print or digital (e-books), because some of them have a hard plastic shell.
If you haven’t read an e-book yet, you may have some of these sentiments. I had a couple of them.
“I want a book I can hold in my hand.”
“I like that musty smell.”
“Digital screens are hard on my eyes.”
“Too much technology already.”
It didn’t take me long to figure out e-books were for me. Don’t worry, they don’t replace my print library, which overflowed from the bookshelves in my former library and will surely fill my new one, no matter how much room I allow for them.
Instead, e-books supplement my print collection.
There are some books I’ll always buy in print – Lincoln volumes, for instance. I’ll do the same with books by friends who are authors. I like having autographed reminders that people I know have tangible proof they are authors, a prod to me that the goal is one I, too, can achieve if I keep working toward it.
I loved it on the day Richard Paul Evans’ second book in his Walk series came out. I was out of town on business. I set my alarm to get up early, turned on my e-book reader and found that the new book I’d ordered was downloaded, waiting to be read. And, when the second book in Jennifer Niven’s Velva Jean series wasn’t in my snail-mailbox on its release date, because I hadn’t paid the super-fast shipping charge, I downloaded the digital version so I could begin reading it. Yes, that time, I spent more than I needed to but, believe me, the book was worth having in two formats.
What books do I prefer in a digital format?
Business books – books about networking, social media, customer service.
Free books – classics like the essays of Robert Louis Stevenson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain and Michel de Montaigne.
My favorite books – the ones I love to go to again and again, like Carl Sandburg’s poetry and Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.
I use my e-book reader so much – especially when I’m on the move – that I can’t imagine having to give it up and go on without it. Yet, I still love the feel of a “real” book when I’m curled up in my favorite chair or tucked under the covers at night. That covers-at-night thing is probably my mother’s fault – and I’m glad. There’s nothing better than a good bedtime story. I heard plenty growing up.
But, when it comes to those three little words – “Paper or plastic?” – my answer is much the same as it is in a grocery store that offers a choice.
“I’d like a few of both, please.”
How about you?
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012