Don’t you think, books are magical? A trivial thing in your hands is able to open up to the size of a 3D movie or a Broadway stage and provide a visual through words, so vivid and alive, that you are right there, in the action, center stage, directing the act by simply turning the pages, until the last scene, when the camera stops and the curtain falls.

An absolute immersion, a window on to your own world or a door to someone else's. The author gets under your skin and becomes you. And you become the author.

You stop feeling time. It is three in the morning, but it does not matter, because you don’t exist in real time. Your time is a century ago, or a decade ago, or somewhere in the future.  You are not here.

You read on trains, plains, walking in the crowded streets and driving in heavy traffic. You read while brushing your teeth, taking a bath, burning your dinner, buying groceries or talking to your mother on the phone.

You are a book-a-holic. When you get money, you buy books. And if there is any left over, you buy food.

The magical books, the unpretentious containers of literary work.  The familiar everyday objects consisting of printed pages glued together and bound in covers… At least that’s what we understand as a ‘book’ today. Though, as our intellectual discourse is shifting from printed pages to networked screens: eBooks, Androids, iPhones and iPads, what is going to happen to our book fetish tomorrow? Will the reading be just as magical?

It should still be, right? The magic is in the text – the unique compilation of words that makes you think and feel and forget about the time. It should not be affected by the medium carrying the text. The content is what matters - the guts of the book - either it is a plain printed text or a hypertext.

Whether you take a paperback from a shelf or download text to your e-reader, the ultimate purpose is direct brain-to-brain download from writer to reader.

We understand the obvious advantages of battery-operated electronic reading. Lightweight and portable, holding your entire library, the eBook can be read whenever and wherever you like. It does not require lighting (remember that flashlight under the blanket?)  It is loyal to your eyes, offering zoom function, letter resizing, and so forth. You can search for words or passages throughout the text. It’s effortless to skip to a juicy section or to go back and reread a memorable part. (Think how long it would take to skim to a particular passage in a paper book, even if it is bookmarked or the page corner is bent?) If you come across an unfamiliar word, a hyperlink may take you directly to an online source, which will cover the gap in your vocabulary, and instantly bring you back to where you were reading. (Now imagine taking a huge dictionary or encyclopedia from a top shelf and manually searching for a peculiar word). Note-taking is powerful, and your notes can be found and referenced quickly and easily. And they don't have to be permanent. (While your notes in paper book are there to stay, even pencil. You can always see the imprints, even if you erase every last shred of graphite). In addition, eBooks are eco-friendly.  You don't have to kill trees.

And yet, something is missing. Something deliciously old-fashioned. The weight of the book in your hand. The texture, the smell. The exciting smell of freshly-printed pages, and the smell of an old book, with turned-yellow pages falling out. The nostalgic stain of coffee, spilt years ago. (You can as well spill coffee on an eBook, but the effect will be different).  The impressive visuals of the interior filled with bookshelves and bookcases (“Wow, did you read all this?”)  Regular trips to a bookstore with no specific book in mind, which always ends up buying a couple of unexpected findings. Wrapping books for a present, exchanging books, loaning, borrowing and reselling...

Will ‘digitized’ young people, who do not know life before the Internet, ever experience any of this? Will they ever feel the pleasure of turning pages? Will they ever know how multifunctional the paper books have been?

Not always containing great literature, books of inferior quality have been good for kindling, bonfire fuel, brown bagging, bookshelf support, furniture leveling, wine coasters, secret piggy banks, status symbols, and even window cleaning paper. And what can you do with unloved digital publications? Just delete it, with no further use.

It is hard to give up our habits. It has always been hard. Remember those old vinyl records? Switching over to cassette tapes? Converting your music collection to compact discs? To MP3s? Transferring your VHS movies to DVD and, God forbid, upgrading to Blu-ray? We have survived it all.

And if it is destined for the electronic books to replace the paperbacks and hardcovers, we’ll survive it too. And we’ll still be reading. Because reading is the only reliable evidence that we are still thinking. And because it is magical.