A love letter to a dying industry: The book business

Christine Colleran

Dear Book,

I am not entirely sure when I first noticed you, but it had to be about fifteen years ago. Back before your very existence was threatened by online giants like the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. Back before the stores that housed you closed and folded, unable to compete with a small block of words on a backlit screen. But I digress; this is about you- not them.

The fact of the matter is I feel less engaged, less connected to you now. You’ve changed. We used to be so close, and it makes me sad when I think back to the way things used to be. You used to be a part of me. There was a chocolate stain on your twenty-third page, and your once smooth back cover was a little dented from when Dad ran you over on the way to Florida. I still feel bad for leaving you on the roof of the car.

I used to fall asleep next to you, my reading light highlighting your glorious words, my lips moving silently to your story. The only sound in my room was the turn of your pages, a rhythm that would gently lull me into a satisfied sleep. It is a sound I no longer hear, and in your absence I find it harder to dream.

It’s been a while since I smelled you, since I drew my thumb along your pages to waft your distinct perfume toward my nose. I can’t remember when I last opened you, last heard that satisfying crack of your spine.
It breaks my heart that I can’t write on you anymore, mustn’t doodle in your margins, nor place my thoughts alongside your own…

I know you don’t miss me the way I miss you. You are, in essence, still the same. You present the same words and you stay the same length in your new e-book format. Yet to me you are unintelligible, it is harder for me to understand you now. It may be your perfectly backlit screen, or possibly your mechanical next page button, but this no longer feels genuine. And I’ve always thought relationships should be built on honesty.

Your new look is slick, I’ll admit it. You can wipe that spilled chocolate off of your screen. You can house hundreds of books between your covers. But I’m no book slut. I’m a one book kind of girl, and I miss you. So bring back those paper cuts, for they are a small price to pay to hold you in my hands. I can handle your torn pages, I knew those parts best. Please, let me place my favorite bookmark by the words I want to revisit.

You were imperfect, but at least I knew you were mine.

Now, as I close my letter to you, I can only hope that there are people out there who remain committed to true books (as you once were). Regardless of your attempts to be new and cool I will continue to read you in your original form, for it remains the best. I will thumb through your pages, and write in your margins. I will have a relationship with you, whether you like it or not. Reading requires connecting, and I simply refuse to let that go.

Just so you know, if Dad ran you over with his car today, you would never survive.
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