I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told to invest in an e-reader.

“You don’t have a Kindle?? But you travel so much!”

“Making space for another bookshelf is so annoying. You wouldn’t have to do that if you just downloaded what you wanted, you know.”

Believe me, I get it. I completely understand the amazing perks of having an e-reader: you can travel light and save space around your room or apartment/home, you can read any book you want in a matter of minutes, and do cool things like access the Internet and read in the dark.

So what’s the problem, why not just buy one? See, every time I pick up an e-reader I feel detached from what I’m reading; not having the actual book in my hands, not being able to feel and smell—yes, smell—the pages takes away an important part of my reading experience. The condition of my books also tells a story: books on my TBR list are usually crinkle- and crease-free, whereas my Desert Island Collection always looks comfortably worn, sort of like the old pair of pajamas with the fraying hem and loose elastic that I love so much.

I’m not usually a stickler for traditions, but I revere the printed word. I didn’t freak out when I heard most schools plan to phase out cursive, but I do feel queasy at the idea of reading pixels instead of ink. To me, an e-reader feels like one more piece of technology I don’t need. Besides, books never run out of batteries.

When I studied abroad in South America I compromised by taking a handful of my favorite books along with a small tablet. I was constantly traveling in those months and can recall several occasions where reading a printed book ended with random conversations with strangers: some mentioned how rare it was to see a person not glued to a screen, others pointed to the title and asked me if I was enjoying what I was reading. Sometimes being judged by a cover isn’t all that bad.

To e-read, or not to e-read, that is the 21st century question. Thoughts?

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