|Yes, it's sideways. Don't ask.|
- Vincent Starrett, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
There is something special about the books we loved when we are young. Picking them up again takes us back, and never more than when can hold in our hands the very volume (paper, ink, and binding) that we read as a youth – or one just like it.
I already owned two paperback editions of Vincent Starrett’s ground-breaking The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes when I saw a copy of the 1960 University of Chicago Press hardback edition at the Black Dog bookstore in Zionsville, IN, over the weekend. But even though I’m not a collector, I didn’t hesitate to buy it for my Sherlock Holmes library.
This was the edition in which I first read the book, borrowed from the public library sometime in my pre-teen years. And as I turned those pages Sunday and Monday, rereading a masterwork, I relived the thrill of learning for the first time about the Baker Street Irregulars, William Gillette, and so much more.
E-books are wonderful. They are lightweight and the type is never too small. I find them ideal for travel, in particular. Many of own book sales are in e-book editions. The ability to download and start reading a book at any hour of the day or night is a great gifts of the twenty-first century. And, of course, the content of a book is the same whether it appears on a page or a screen.
But for me an e-book will never have the nostalgic pull that comes from the smell and touch of ink on paper – especially when it is the familiar edition of a book that I loved in my youth and still do.