Print Books vs eBooks
I’m a book lover. I like the look and heft and smell of them. I like them neatly arranged on shelves and piled haphazardly on tables. Books are great. But I don’t primarily love books because of their feel and appearance. I love what’s inside them — you know, words and ideas and stories. That’s why I also like digital books.
I find the print book vs. eBook debate amusing, but I wonder at the vehemence of it all. Real book lovers seem to have the upper hand, generally. I’ve heard many proudly proclaim their loyalty to the paper and ink tradition and scorn the very idea of digital literature. EBook fans, on the other hand, tend to be defensive, almost apologetic, about their iPads and Kindles.
Let’s stop the silliness. I love them both and can’t imagine why any genuine literary person would feel the need to take sides.
In my mind, no decor beats a a wall of books. I just turned off the latest episode of Downton Abbey, having once again coveted the library. I like cracking open new books and I like musty, yellowed, old books. As much as anyone, I appreciate the feel of a genuine book in my hand or a dog-eared paperback in a coat pocket. I find old leather-bound books particularly beautiful things. Count me in with all the multi-sensory lovers of real books.
I also appreciate the ease of lending and borrowing books. Books make excellent gifts–both to give and to get. They are inexpensive but personal and thoughtful.
I enjoy marking up books and writing notes in the margins. I like coming back to them later and rediscovering what I previously had to say.
It is an advantage that a real book never needs to be recharged or powered on or off. Not an enormous advantage, but an advantage. Especially when one considers the possibility of being stranded on a desert-island.
For all these reasons, I can’t imagine that digital books will ever completely replace the traditionally printed book.
It is a never-ending wonder to me that I have, at this very moment, literally hundreds of books in my pocket. Why would any true lover of reading have the slightest opposition to that? I use the Kindle app on my iPhone and have downloaded scores and scores of books over the past few years. I can read whenever I’m unexpectedly waiting. At the dentist. In a grocery store line. While I’m sipping a Starbuck’s caramel macchiato. Just like that. Awesome.
I can highlight and take notes. I like doing this by hand in a real book better, but it’s still possible, and it’s super easy to instantly share quotes with friends via email, text, or social media. That’s a nice feature.
When I read print books and come across a word I’m unfamiliar with or unsure of, I circle it. If I have time, I’ll go back and look it up and write the definition in the margin. At least I used to do that. Now, when I read a digital book, I just rest my finger on the word for a second and the definition appears instantly! That. Is. Awesome.
Here’s something else I love about digital books. I can’t tell you how many times someone has recommended an intriguing book that I almost immediately forget about entirely. Now, when someone tells me of a book I should read, I open my Amazon app and immediately download the free sample (usually the first chapter). Then I can read the first bit and decide whether or not it’s worthwhile to buy the whole thing. Wonderful.
I can read eBooks with one hand. This is a little thing, but I like that I can hold an eBook with one hand while reclining or walking. I can read it while horizontal with greater ease.
Now that my eyes are getting older, I like being able to make the typeface bigger on a digital reader.
And finally, I like being able to read in bed without a light. It lets my wife sleep while I read.
Face it, folks. If you love books, there’s no reason why you can’t love both print and digital books. I’ve got a Kindle, two iPads, and an iPhone loaded with books. I’ve also got shelves and shelves of hard and paperbacks. We don’t have to take sides!
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments in the Reply section below.