Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Readers vs. Book Owners

I loved how the CEO of Penguin, John Makinson, differentiated between book readers and book owners when asked, in Monday's article in the Wall Street Journal, whether there will be a time when physical books are no longer published.

He said that a book reader is someone who "wants the experience of reading the book" and for someone like that a digital reader is perfect. But he also said that physical books won't go away as long as there are people who are book owners, who want "to give, share and shelve books."

Glancing at the wall-to-wall book shelves in our living room, I know what I am. I remember a friend who reads a lot telling me how happy she was about her new Kindle because it was always the same size and fit perfectly into her purse. The idea of being able to download books from anywhere, and having a reading queue right there in my purse sounded definitely practical.

But then I thought to myself that that was exactly what I didn't want. I didn't want every book to be the same size. I want every book to be different because I am the kind of person who remembers the cover, or remembers where on a page I spotted a quote I loved. I am someone who dog ears her books and underlines favorite passages. And, as you can see, I love having my own library.

What kind of book person are you?


  1. I am like you. I don't even like "borrowing" books from the library. I need to write on it, underline it, carry it around for weeks, use it as a file for other papers and give it away or share it... and even after giving them away, I go and order the out of print book, because I miss it.
    Love the photo too.

  2. The satisfaction of having a stocked bookshelf is amazing! Plus I love d smell of new books! Once I read a book I have a bond with it and if its a borrowed one returning it would be unbearable! I'm through through a book owner and not just a reader

  3. I love actual books- and my favorite book in any house is the library- or the room where there are wall to wall shelves (filled with books)! :) I told my husband that my dream house will have a HUGE library. However, in the meantime- I have my medium shelf of books-- and my piles of books- AND my Nook. :)

  4. I am a hybrid of owner and reader. Books I love I want to own. Beach reads not so much. Sometimes I want to sit in my library surrounded by books while reading my kindle. Great post!

  5. I am definitely a 'book owner' as I love the different sizes, the book covers and even the backs! I love the way they look on a bookshelf, but most of all, I love holding them and turning pages. Definitely a book owner.

  6. Desert Rocks - I agree, library books are a problem although I do borrow books now and then when I have to read them for class and am not sure whether I'll like them. I end up buying them if I do.

    Anjuli - so what do you read on your Nook?

    Bach - I do think it makes sense to consume some books via e-readers while others are worth owning - it's nice that we have those options, isn't it? Goes to show that one kind of book does not preclude the other.

    Nancy - yeah, I'm like you, I don't even have a Kindle or Nook yet, not sure I will, but who knows but these days I really don't read to consume.

  7. I am right there with husband and I are both book owners. This is a lovely post, I can't wait to share it with him. Everything you say about underlining, turning pages, remembering covers is true for me. An e-reader just doesn't seem like it would fill that need.