Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers- Charles. W. Eliot
The Computer or the Internet to be more specific is very much like television in that it takes time away from other pursuits, provides entertainment and information, but in no way can compare with the warm, personal experience of reading a good book. This is not the only reason why the Internet will never replace books, for books provide the in-depth knowledge of a subject that sitting in front of a computer monitor cannot provide. We can download text from an Internet source, but the aesthetic quality of sheets of downloaded text leave much to be desired. A well-designed book enhances the reading experience. The Internet will never be able to deliver the feel of holding a book, the roughness of the pages, the sweet smell of freshly printed paper; the shiny, glossy, untouched cover or the crispness of the new pages. Convenience is another thing that puts books above computers. The easy portability of the book is what makes it the most user-friendly format for knowledge ever invented. The idea that one can carry in one’s pocket a play by Shakespeare, a novel by Charles Dickens or Tom Clancy, Plato’s Dialogues, or the Bible in a small paperback edition is mind-boggling. We take such uncommon convenience for granted, not realizing that the book itself has undergone quite an evolution since the production of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 and Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1623. However, intimacy I feel conquers everything that I have mentioned above. The Internet will never be able to deliver the feel of holding a book, of owning your very own book; knowing that you are the only one who will read this copy, the secret thrill that joy brings, that this book is yours, and yours only.
Feel. The feel of the book provides half the joy of reading a book. The computer will never be able to provide the feel of the book-the rough texture of the page as you thumb through the book, the feel of the adrenaline kicking in, high lightening all your senses as you turn the page of your mystery novel, the pages of the book sticking together because of the sweat from your cold, sweaty hands as you clamp the book tightly in your excitement, the feeling, once your lost in a book, seeing the images in front of your eyes as though you’re watching a movie, completely unaware of your surroundings, even unaware of when you are turning the page. The computer, how ever developed it may become, will never be able to come even close to replicating such a thrill. Can you imagine clutching the cold, metal of your laptop in the spur of the moment rather than the rough, warm pages of your book or slamming shut the screen of your laptop rather than the cover of your book, clutching it to your chest and rolling around your bed when you don’t think you can bring you’re self to see what written in the next line?
Convenience. The book, unlike the computer, is hassle-free. Just purchase a book, out it in your bag, and you can read it whenever you want- one the train, on your way to work, on your coffee break, when there is an extraordinarily long advertisement break going on on V or even when you are taken over by insomnia at three in the morning . This, however, cannot be said for computers. In the case of computers, not only do you have to carry the heavy laptop itself, you have to carry all the various plug-ins and cables. Then comes the job of finding an Internet outlet or a Wi-Fi zone for Internet connection. Then, just when you’ve settled down, and more importantly just when Harry lowers his wand and stands defenseless against Voldemort and his army of Deatheaters or when Robert Langdon stands holding the fate of the entire Vatican City in his hands with the container of antimatter, what should happen but the battery dies and no amount of yelling at it and frantically pressing the power button will bring it back before you reach home and charge it for a good half-hour, leaving you tearing out your hair and cursing it in agony.
Intimacy. Owning a book, being able to see it laying around your house, complete with ‘doggy-ears’ , being able to open it and start reading it immediately without having to wait for your computer to boot up first, being able to see the stain marks from where you were eating Maggie Noodles while reading because you couldn’t get yourself to put down your book, even for a minute and your mother was shouting at you for making the food cold and have that sense of nostalgia come rushing back to you, that’s all part of the experience of reading a book which I feel nobody should be deprived from. While reading the book also, I don’t know about you, but I would rather sit in the comfort of my own bed, snuggled down under the covers on a cold, rainy day listening to the soothing and some-what sound hypnotizing of the rain against my window than sit focus-straight staring at the computer screen till my eyes start watering or be at some coffee shop such as Barista amongst a bunch of strangers, being watched and constantly interrupted by the waitresses asking if I would need anything else while I was reading.
Books provide a bridge to the past, to all of those who have gone before us and have left us the wisdom accumulated by their life experiences. Books have that magical ability to bring the past to life through the words of those who lived in years gone by. If you want to truly know history, you must read the actual words of those who lived it, unabridged and unrevised by today’s proponents of political correctness.
Books are also companions in a way that the Internet can never be. The author speaks to us directly through the pages. We hear his or her voice. If the story is compelling, it will become part of our own mentalities and provide us with an experience which we will have had through the author. We will have known what it was like to survive a concentration camp, or live the life of a great actress or statesman or musician, or suffer climbing Mount Everest, or rejoice in making a great scientific discovery. Each of us has only one life to live, but we can vicariously live a great many other lives through books written by other human beings. That is why the power of the book can never be replaced by the Internet.
That is not to say the Internet is any less than it is. The Internet, as it continues to grow, is certainly one of the most remarkable technological developments in the history of mankind. Its ability to connect us all with the entire world is what makes it so extraordinary. For example, you can read the morning’s headlines or weather reports in Australian newspapers, explore the subway system in Buenos Aires, or locate a long-lost friend in the U.S. if he or she has a telephone. Through email you can communicate with anyone anywhere who also has an email address. You can even discuss the latest book you’ve read.
But will the Internet ever replace books? Not on your life.