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Blog picBroadmeadows Shopping Centre was packed with bargain hunters the day Barbie moved in. Prams and trolleys dodged human traffic and people rushed past oblivious to the twisting in my guts. In the left hand corner of a brightly lit shop, plastic limbs cluttered the space where Angus and Robertson’s top 100 books used to be. Barbie and friends now lived where Jean M Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series had lured me into a fictional world and inspired me to write. A sense of loss tailgated me for the rest of the day like a shadow.

Things were changing.

Younger cousins were balancing alternate realities, their bodies firmly planted in the lounge room, their eyes and ears immersed in IPads. “Hi Demi,” they’d yell when the colourful devices were miraculously absent. “We’ve missed you!” Hugs lasted till IPads beeped. “The pie’s ready!” they’d say, flying out of my arms and into artificial restaurants. Just like smartphones have changed the way we communicate, printed books are facing a similar challenge. While Ebooks are portable, light, cheap and accessible, some things are irreplaceable. Curling up with a printed book, coffee in hand, staining it in your haste to get to the next page. That surge of excitement upon entering a bookshop or library where worlds and possibilities surround your physical space.

Reading is an intimate act that requires physical, emotional and mental connection. I choose to have no technological barriers in my experience and I’m not the only one. There’s a big digital readership but that doesn’t necessarily mean that printed books will be forced into retirement. E-books offer readers wider access to books. As a writer, I couldn’t ask for a better agreement. As a reader I choose stained pages and curled ends.

 

 A version of this post first appeared in Verity La.

 

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