Thursday, February 17, 2011

Those aren't books


What do you think of e-books and Amazon’s Kindle?


Those aren’t books. You can’t hold a computer in your hand like you can a book. A computer does not smell. There are two perfumes to a book. If a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better. It smells like ancient Egypt. A book has got to smell. You have to hold it in your hands and pray to it. You put it in your pocket and you walk with it. And it stays with you forever. But the computer doesn’t do that for you. I’m sorry.

From a Paris Review interview with Ray Bradbury


Owen said...

The irony of that interview is rich, it's so obvious it nearly defies comment.

Owen said...

P.S. I'm a 'real' book lover. Couldn't agree more about the two smells of a book. The feel, the smell, the 'comfort' take precedence for me over transportability and so on...still this coming out of the mouth of sci-fi, futurist Bradbury is ironic.

Enbrethiliel said...


You'll have to lead me a little, Owen, I'm not sure what your point is. Bradbury's comments are in line with both his anti-book dystopia Fahrenheit 451 and nostalgic stuff just sparkling with sensory stimuli like Dandelion Wine.

Owen said...

Bradbury loves books, paper books with covers, yes or no?

Answer that and then perhaps I can lead you to my point which I thought was clear.

Alternately I can be shown to have misunderstood the Bradbury quote and be corrected. Which is equally wonderful.


Enbrethiliel said...


While I was gone, I was been trying to figure out the possible ironies:

a) That his praise of paper books has appeared in an online interview that may never be printed?

b) That his comment that paper books stay with you forever but e-books don't can actually be turned on its head?

c) That the surviving books at the end of Fahrenheit 451 aren't in paper form at all, but in a form actually much closer to what we have with e-books?

Let me guess: I'm not even close? =P

Anyway, to answer your question, yes, Bradbury does seem to love paper books.

Owen said...

Hi Enbrethiliel
you are right, (though this was not your aim to point out that) I have no idea what I am talking about. I stand, appreciatively, corrected, really do, in my poorly thought out comment on irony. 

In my defense (one that will shortly be exposed by me as no defense at all) that I have read Fahrenheit 451 though clearly I forgot the e-book part of the ending.

Putting my memory of F51 together with the highlighted comment from the article with a generalized - and I see now quite wrong headed - idea of Bradbury as a sci-fi writer who, by being one, is somehow ipso facto a futurist and therefore his not liking this present future seemed ironic. But none of that is so.

There is nothing ironic in what he said, rather he is thoroughly consistent with his thinking going all the way back to F51.

With no snark intended, I thank you for your gentle challenge.

Enbrethiliel said...


You're welcome, Owen! I'm also glad we finally got to talk to each other, as we've been hanging out in the same comboxes and not really making eye contact before. =) It's also always a pleasure to discuss Bradbury. Thanks for the discussion!

Owen said...

I have one lazy eye so it's hard to make eye contact with me at the best of times. In cafes people think I'm ogling them when really, I barely know they exist and sometimes wish they didn't know I do.

[word verification = hatism - see, with only one letter removed all the bad goes away]