By Julia Simsion
Working for a print specialist international PR agency I am exposed to print on a daily basis. However, my love of the printed book goes far beyond my professional loyalties. Anyone who knows me will be able to tell you how I wax lyrical about printed books as opposed to the digital version and what’s more, recent reports indicate that I’m not alone in my love of the printed word. According to the Publishers Association, sales of e-books fell 17% in the UK in 2016.
As the final countdown to a long-awaited holiday begins, top of my pre-holiday checklist is choosing the books that will accompany me on my trip. In my quest to tick this box, I have already begun to ask friends and colleagues for their recommendations and have found that the debate over whether a printed book or e-book is preferred, usually ensues.
As someone who packs everything but the kitchen sink, opting for an e-book that takes up far less space in my suitcase would seem like the most sensible choice. However, I cannot think of anything that could rival the bliss of getting completely lost in a book that is nice and soft to the touch, where I can turn down the pages like a dog’s ear (no, I don’t use a bookmark but that’s a whole other argument!), increasing the number of pages on the left and reducing those on the right. I even love the smell of books.
Aside from wanting to escape from the daily routine of looking at a computer, I want to totally immerse myself in a story and easily recall the events and characters’ names. Studies suggest that e-book readers are less likely to remember the information, so how can I recommend a good holiday read to a friend if I am less likely to have properly digested its contents?
Just how relaxing is it to lie on a sunbed staring at a screen anyway? Taking a snooze with a book resting on my face is far more comfortable than doing so with an e-book. And when I want to put my book down to go for a quick dip in the pool, I’m fairly safe in the knowledge that someone is not going to walk away with my latest paperback – would I feel the same leaving an iPad, Kindle or other e-book reader buried beneath my towel?
Publishers have also recognised that the love of the printed book goes beyond the simple pleasure of reading. Books are also treasured as beautiful artefacts that evoke our own memories and emotions, with different printing and finishing techniques used to represent the genre that encourages the initial sale, but then goes on to create the atmosphere that drives long lasting memories. When I look at the books that are either sitting on my bookshelves, are neatly stacked by my bedside or are weighing heavily on the joists of my loft, they take me back to previous holidays and experiences. Having an e-book resting within arms’ reach of me certainly doesn’t ignite memories of my past and I want the books that I choose to travel with me this year to serve as a reminder of the days I shall spend by the sea, of the food and wine I shall eat and drink and of the time I shall spend with the people that I cherish most in my life.
And then, when I am fully rested and have seized every opportunity possible to do what I love doing the most, I shall return from my holiday and take great delight in sharing my printed books with my friends. I most definitely wouldn’t feel the same amount of warmth in sharing an e-book (and that’s if I could navigate my way round doing so, of course!)
So, regardless of whether it’s a page turning thriller or a guilty pleasure love story that finds its way into my luggage, my perfect summer read has to be a printed book!