In Defense of E-Books

When I worked in the library, one of the complaints that I got a lot was about the fact that we offered e-book services.

“I’m so mad. I’m sick of these e-book things. I want a real book. You’re getting rid of real books and only providing e-books. Kids these days don’t even know what a real book looks like. They can’t stop staring at their screens. No one’s reading anymore. I’m having none of it.”

This conversation was a clear indication that the speaker was someone who a) would not listen to anything I would tell them because I’m a millenial and therefore ignorant and entitled and b) is scared of technology and reacts with fear and hatred towards anything that they do not understand.

Here’s the deal, guys: the world is changing, and if you don’t at least try to understand the changes that are happening, you’re going to get left behind. These people who just have blind hatred for new technology will miss out on so much. They will miss out on getting to watch and interact with their grandkids on a regular basis through things like FaceTime and Skype. They will miss out on keeping up with their nieces’ and nephews’ adventures overseas through Facebook and Instagram.

So I thought that I’d share my perspective on e-books and audiobooks, and physical books. I consume all three, and I like them for different reasons.

Benefits of E-Books:

  • All of your books are conveniently located in one portable device. If you finish one book while you’re on the go, you don’t need to wait until you get home to start the next one, you’ve got 10 waiting fo you at your fingertips!
  • You can immediately download a book from the comfort of your own home. Sure, you can buy a physical book from the internet and have it delivered to your house, but it’s not nearly as instantaneous as downloading an e-book at home.
  • You can read comfortably while lying down. This may not be as big of an issue for other people as it is for me, but I’m more comfortable sleeping on my side, so when I read in bed, I’d like to read in that same position. But it is so hard to read a physical book while you’re lying on your side. The pages flop weirdly, and your hand gets sore trying to hold the book open, it’s just not comfortable. But with an e-reader, you don’t have that problem.

Points Against E-books:

  • You have to charge your e-reader. That’s not a problem you get with a book made of paper.
  • You can’t really lend out an e-book. It’s a file that you’ve downloaded onto your e-reader. I mean, you could, in theory, copy the e-book file and send it to someone else, but it’s not the same as lending a book from your personal library. (However, this could be a point in e-book’s favour, depending on who you are)
  • You don’t get to hold a physical book, and turn the physical pages. You don’t feel the book slowly get thicker on the left hand side as you get closer to the end.
  • This might be a problem specifically with my type of ereader, but it’s really difficult to flip back and forth between sections (if you need to check something, for find a quote that you liked), and highlighting/annotating is next to impossible. Even if I highlight something, it doesn’t save what I’ve highlighted.

Benefits of Audiobooks:

  • You can listen to an audiobook while you’re driving, or while you’re cleaning, or while you’re cooking. It’s way easier to multitask while listening to an audiobook.
  • Depending on the quality of the narrator/production, you can actually hear the different accents of the characters, and their voices, and different sound effects. The experience can easily become very immersive.
  • You can speed up the recording of the audiobook, and get through the book much faster than you might have had you been reading the book with your eyes.

Points Against Audiobooks:

  • The narrator really makes or break the audiobook. If the narrator has any weird vocal quirks, it can really ruin the whole experience.
  • I find it way easier to completely miss things while listening to an audiobook. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been an auditory learner, but I just don’t pick up on things as quickly when I’m listening to an audiobook.

Benefits of Physical Books:

  • You can highlight them, mark them up, and make your mark on the text. This is especially helpful when the book is a text book (I know there are some people whose hearts break when they think of someone putting a pen to their beloved books).
  • It’s easy to flip back and forth quickly.
  • Aesthetically, they are beautiful. Let’s be honest, would you rather look at a bookshelf filled with the beautiful spines of your favourite tomes, or a digital bookshelf with a list of the titles?
  • Nothing beats that book smell

Points Against Physical Books:

  • They’re easily damaged.
  • They are heavy! If you’re like me, and love to read tens of books on vacation, you know how heavy your suitcase can get.
  • It’s hard to multitask when you’ve got a book in your hand. It’s even hard to eat when reading a book that hasn’t really been broken in yet.
  • For whatever reason, creepy dudes won’t ask you questions about your e-reader, or what you’re listening to on your earbuds, but if you’ve got a book out – “Whatcha readin?”

They’re good for different things. If you completely write off new technologies, you’re going to miss out. Just like you’re going to miss out if you completely write off something because it’s old.

This is the point. One technology doesn’t replace another, it complements. Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators. – Stephen Fry

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5 thoughts on “In Defense of E-Books

  1. Your post makes excellent points. I was very anti-ebook for a long time because of my loyalty to physical books, but I learned that they’re not going anywhere. I still have my thousands of hardcovers and paperbacks at home while enjoying the numerous volumes on my ereaders.

    Another good thing about ebooks is that they’re cheaper too, so if you’ve got a smart phone that can download the Kindle or Nook app, you can generally get a book for a couple of bucks or even free!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post and points. Honestly I love physical books. My bookshelves are my favorite. But being someone that commutes on the subway to school and work I love having ebook copies of things because it’s just easier transport wise. A lot of time I just get guilty pleasure or light fun reads as ebooks instead of the ones I know I’m gonna love and want a physical copy of

    Like

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