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Book Event Shows Reading Isn’t Going Anywhere

National festival in D.C. showcased authors, writing, joy of reading

Years ago, on the eve of moving to a new home, my husband looked at the bookcases that lined my walls and cringed.

“You really need to weed out the ones you don’t want anymore,” he muttered.

You can’t get this experience with an e-book.

He dreaded carrying boxes up and down the stairs, and I didn’t blame him. They are heavy and numerous. I was flexible about getting rid of a variety of things — but not my books.

I drew inspiration, wonder and creative energy from being near them. They brought so much meaning to my world. Each represented a piece of the person I have become. They awakened me philosophically and intellectually and continue to inspire me to learn more and be more.

When we moved into our most recent home a couple years ago, I was thrilled to have a real library room with wall-to-wall built-in bookcases. This fulfilled a lifelong dream.

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Related: Reading is the Secret to Lifelong Health

Now, my husband has resigned himself to the fact that my books are not going anywhere. Although he is not a bookworm, he has changed from being an avid collector of signed baseball cards to an avid collector of signed books. Now, 60 percent of the books in my library have been signed by the author.

We both work in professions where we engage with famous people every day, so it has become surprisingly easy. And he has become determined to make sure every book in our library is signed by the author.

And with the heavy lifting behind us, he said, “Now our kids will know all of the cool people we met and knew.”

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You can’t get that experience with an e-book.

Hundreds of bestselling authors from around the world descended on our nation’s capital this weekend for the 16th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

While it’s not Book Expo America or the Frankfurt Book Fair — two giants in the book publishing industry — the National Book Festival in Washington each year presents a fabulous opportunity to see, hear from, and collect author autographs. Newt Gingrich, Stephen King, Bob Woodward, and Salman Rushdie all attended. Shonda Rimes, executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal,” discussed her new book, “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person.”

The book festival coincided with the opening of the National African American Museum on the National Mall. Many of the authors at the book festival were there to highlight aspects of African American heritage, including Sharona Robinson, who talked about her famous dad Jackie Robinson, and Colson Whitehead, author of “The Underground Railroad.” Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), was scheduled to discuss his book “The March.”

Lois Lowry, whose books have been required reading for elementary and middle school students for decades, was on hand as well. She wrote two powerful books: “The Giver” and “Number the Stars.” The first book was turned into a major film in 2014, and “Number of the Stars” is being adapted for film by director and actor Sean Astin.

To walk around a major book festival and see the celebration of authors was to see that we continue to embrace the physical book over the intangible experience of a Kindle or iPad.

Related: Kindling the Fire for Real Books

Last year, CBS News reported on a study that found reading on paper helped with memory and retention of the material and that reading physical books helped reduce eye fatigue, which is a problem for e-book readers.

Although the major chain bookstores have faded in most towns, independent bookstores continue to thrive in many places.

Amazon has cut significantly into sales at brick-and-mortars, but even it has opened bookstores in Seattle, San Diego and Portland, Oregon. The Washington Post reports it is looking to open one in Washington, D.C.

Physical books were supposed to fade away years ago, just like VCRs and cassette tapes. But they haven’t completely gone away because there are a lot of people like me who enjoy books, independent bookstores, book festivals and, yes, buying books on Amazon when the situation calls for it.

Book lovers, those of us who embrace the physical book over the e-book, were out in force on the National Mall this weekend (and other book lovers at other festivals around the country).

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