25 May 2021

The pull of the hardback in a digital age

Our latest blog is a love letter to the weighty pleasures of a real-life book, as a contrast to the ever-glowing screens that have populated our lockdown days, from Account Executive Harriet Tolson

It's no secret that the nation has been stuck indoors for the best part of a year and a half. If we were already tech-obsessed pre-pandemic, Covid has only strengthened our reliance on it; so much so that, as we started to see friends and family again, I sometimes found myself forgetting that a real, non-digitised version of these people actually existed.

Not that we should be complaining about it; it's been a vital lifeline, allowing many to keep working, stay in contact with those closest to us, and indulge in a bit of Netflix escapism to pass the time. A recent tweet from comedian Rose Mafateo, did however, strike a major chord with me:

"It's great to relax in front of the big screen after spending the day looking at the medium sized screen before I retire to bed to look at the small screen until I fall asleep."

But for all this, it's also really reinvigorated my appreciation for 'physical' books, pulling me away from my various screens and towards the simplicity of the paper and hardbacks I'd previously left unopened. During a time when we were all living lives through a virtual lens - punctuated by the occasional uninspiring walk or run round the block - the contrast it provided with the digital world we were (and largely still are) inhabiting was, for me, a welcome one.

As someone who usually takes their time to get through a book, with so much spare time on my hands I found that, peak-lockdown, my typical turnover was much higher than usual. After exhausting the original contents of my bookshelf, one day on a walk to a nearby village I stumbled across a street library: a community bookswap encouraging people to pick up and take away a book in exchange for leaving one of their own. Doing further research, I was pleasantly surprised to read that similar 'book hatches' had been popping up across other UK towns and villages. It was great to see that I wasn't the only one who'd fallen back in love with the comforting musty smell and general charm of a great book, passing the weekends tucked away in my new favourite reading spot.

Of course, I do still love e-readers - being able to just search for a book and have it download onto a device of your choosing in just minutes is still a bit of a thrill, and in office-working times, it's quite nice not to have to lug what can sometimes be the equivalent weight of a brick around the tube with you. But by the same token, nothing can quite replicate the real life thing, which for me was a great way to escape into an alternative - and crucially non-pandemic - world, giving me a welcome break from my mindless social media scrolling.

Hence why it's so great to see bookshops reopening - like those Account Manager Sophie wrote about in her recent blog.

Photo credit Aneta Pawlik, Unsplash