The postman knocks - it's a hardback, too big to go through the door, newly printed from Princeton University Press; navy blue cloth and yellow ribbon at the spine. Someone has taken their time over this. The front and back papers have a map. Inside are close to 500 large pages of closely-written text. Someone's life is in there. I think of all the hours Christopher I Beckwith must have spent in libraries and with old documents in order to write this book - the travelling and the translating, the transcribing and editing. Maybe he has interviewed experts and spent days wondering around museums and archeological digs. Maybe he has spent nights on his own at his desk when everyone else was outside, watching television, or just simply getting on with the business of living.
I bring it up to my face and sniff. It's all for this. A new hardback book. The smell of ink and new paper. It is such a luxury and such a pleasure to own it. I know an ebook is useful, convenient and has almost everything that this book has in my hands - but it hasn't got this weight, this smell, this presence. Just as writing by hand is a different experience from typing, so, I believe, that reading from a book (as opposed to the screen) is a different experience too.
I thought maybe I had been converted to digital - but just at this moment I know I am not.