When I was very small, I checked out a certain book from the school library. It was a thin paperback with beautiful illustrations and whimsical themes -- kings and quests and a talking wolf. I loved that book. So much so that I didn't return it for weeks, checking it out again and again until they'd allow it no more. At which point, I racked up an impressive fine. (Well, as impressive a fine as a school is willing to levy on a seven-year-old.)
Across the years, I'm sad to say that my cherished, by-hand book was lost a page at a time. But the story didn't end there.
When I became a mother myself, she went looking for that book. It took several false purchases and nearly a year to find the right title, but find it she did. And once again, I had my tale of whimsy and talking wolves -- this time, to share with my own child. I still love that book. It holds a prominent place on my son's bookshelf, facing outward, where I can see it from the doorway anytime I wish.
Had this situation taken place today, it would have been a simple matter of looking up the title online and downloading a copy before returning that thin paperback. There would have been no years-long search, no page by page reminder that stories matter and that mothers will do anything for their children, sacrificing sleep and time and money they didn't necessarily have to spare. And though I am now an indie writer who publishes primarily in the e-market, printed books will always be important to me in a way that's difficult to describe without getting a little teary.
Happy Mother's Day, everyone.
Go buy this book.