The Importance of Physical Books

Yesterday, my mother handed me a book that belonged to my grandmother who recently passed. The hardcover book stopped my breath. Beautifully bound in an intricate cover, it contains the complete works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, known best to me by his epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha.

The weight of the book is two-fold. Physically, it is heavier than most books I’ve held as of late. Emotionally, I had to pause to take in the magnitude of it. Within my hands, are one man’s words which started as a thought. These thoughts grew so large that he had to put them onto paper, had to get them out of his being, and had to share them with the world. The copyright date of this book…is 1884.

What blew me away is the fact that this man’s mind, his words, his thoughts, and a piece of him are able to fit in my hands. I feel a sense of awe knowing that while he is long gone, his legacy rests on the words of the pages of this book which he left behind. What an awesome thing!

I feel for certain that when inspiration hit and Longfellow composed the hundreds of poems that he published in this book in 1884, the thought never crossed his mind that someone would be holding it in the year 2012. Nor did my grandmother consider that this book, which her fingers had graced, which had brought her pleasure while reading it, would one day live on in my collection, and one day in that of her great-grandchildren and their children after them.

Words are powerful. Remember this as you toil over your own story, that one day 150 years from now, someone may be holding your book in their hands. No matter how popular ebooks become (or whatever technology has to bring) there will never be anything to replace the physical book and all the history that is attached to it.


The Importance of Physical Books

9 thoughts on “The Importance of Physical Books

  1. What a beautiful book! I have some similar volumes that belonged to family or were flea market finds. Electronic books are great and I’m thankful for them but I doubt they will stand the test of time in the way books like this have. Sure they will still be there but will people be blogging reverently about finding an old ebook in 100 years? I doubt it.


    1. Good comments, Larry. I’m sure in 100 years ebooks will not even be accessible and our grandkids will have to repurchase every book in our current collection. Thanks for reading my blog.


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