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The Beauty, The Smell, The Feel, The Excitement of a Printed Book!

Monday 16 April 2018 at 9:57 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for April 12, 2018, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            One of my cousins, like me, passionately loves books (the printed kind), and she regularly posts on Facebook her affirmation of the joy and value of books. She and I have the same great grandfather, who had the only home library in Fedor, Texas, in the 1800’s. Great Grandfather also traveled about the country side in his buggy peddling books to supplement his income from cotton farming. He sold books in Wendish, German, and, later, in English.

            It’s not just the acquiring of information from a book that I like about these wonderful “things” made of paper, but, strange as it may seem, it’s also a love for the object itself. Half the wall in my third-grade classroom in Dime Box Rural School was lined with books, which were available for us to check out. I loved just looking at that collection of beautiful volumes, and, even more so, being able to touch them and take them home. While our teacher was concerned about students bringing a book back damaged, she knew mine would come back in pristine condition. For me, damaging a book was as sinful as injuring another human being.

            Some of my friends who enjoy books either read books on their Kindle, or “listen” to them on CD’s, displaying a preference I am totally unable to comprehend. And don’t talk to me about those who would rather see the movie than read the book!

 There are even those who tell me to save trees by reading the daily news online. You not only save trees, but you also save money on daily newspaper subscriptions, which are very expensive. OK, so that’s a good argument. It is a fact nowadays that of the 69 percent of Americans who read the newspaper, about 42 percent read it online. However, for me, it’s not the same. I really like all my reading matter printed.

            Back in the old days in Dime Box, when everybody had outdoor privies, weekly and/or daily newspapers were our regular source of toilet paper. We got the most out of our subscriptions.

            The same thing which is happening to books and newspapers also seems to be happening with magazines today. Very disturbing to me is the fact that nearly half the literary journals open to free-lance submissions are “online only” magazines, which means there are no print versions. Thankfully, there are still a number of “print only” magazines, as well as, print and online journals available to write for.

            Recently, two of my poems were published in an “online only” magazine, and while I’m honored to have my works published, I have this empty feeling about the poems disappearing into cyber space! I can’t hold the poems in my hands and show them to my friends. Well, I suppose I could pack up my computer and carry it around so that I could share with friends. There is just something about having to look up a website, click on your name, and view your poem online that is greatly unsatisfying. In the future, I plan to stay with print only magazines.

            And I can assure those who want me to save trees I will never read a book on a Kindle, or listen to it on a CD! I would rather give up wooden furniture than do that! Even if books eventually disappear from the earth, there are those of us who will start an underground book movement.

            My cousin, and some of my friends, understand my thoughts and feelings on this, and I know my great grandfather would. They, too, love the exquisite beauty of a well-designed book; they, too, love the smell of a book, a smell that only paper can produce; they, too, love the feel of an open book in your hands; they, too love the excitement of thousands and thousands of delightful printed words, -- long words, short words, common words, unusual words, colorful words, noisy words, musical words – on paper passing in front of your eyes! O, the immense joy of a book!


Ray Spitzenberger is a free-lance writer and artist who lives in East Bernard with his beautiful wife Peggy and spoiled cat Gatsby.

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