A few years ago (…well, more than a few) people feared the invention of the printing press. They didn’t like the idea of ideas and information being massed produced. Fast forward a few centuries and books are becoming even more accessible than before. With the invention of eBooks, people can download books from home and store multiple novels on a single device. But some traditionalists prefer the old format of print books. They see more advantages to holding a tangible book in their hand then reading it on an electronic device.
So who is right?
The advantages of a classic, paper book is that they are easily obtainable. Libraries and book stores are practically around every corner, stocked full of titles and volumes. Books have the advantage of being fairly portable and cheap, and can be purchased either used or new. Reading a traditional book doesn’t cause severe eye strain and requires no power to utilize, with the exception of the light bulb above one’s head. This type of book can be read in the bathtub or stuffed in a backpack and still survive. Also, they can be written in, displayed on a shelf, loaned out, or even have sections cut out of.
But print books aren’t perfect. They are bulky at times, and heavy. For lengthy travel, they can become a burden. (That’s why my copy of the final Harry Potter book was left in a hostel in Dublin). They do require a light source to read by and can be damaged permanently, or lost completely. And, of course, you can’t buy a book at midnight in your pyjamas.
For those that prefer eBooks, there are many reasons to support their case. They are very ‘readable’, with their zoom, sizing, and night-reading options. They are portable, with the ability to carry many books at once. Not only that, but tree-huggers will enjoy their environmentally-friendly properties. And if you want to read Fifty Shades of Grey, an eBook might be the best medium to choose, as it offers the most privacy. No one can see what you’re reading just by glancing at the cover. You can also use eBook in your academic study: reading custom written papers, learning languages.
But eBooks aren’t perfect. To start with, they require a reader. And then the debate over which reader to buy begins: Kindle? Tablet? Ipad? Koobo? Not all readers are equal in ability or price, and often the books you purchase are limited by which reader you have. And readers can be damaged, have software bugs, lose power or cause eye strain.
There are many advantages and disadvantages on both sides of the print book versus eBook issue. But for those people who prefer the tangible feel of a print book, the battle may already be lost. Many publishing companies are only offering e-versions of books, due to lower publishing costs. With eBook sales increasing and print sales decreasing, there is less incentive to offer the print version. Even libraries are jumping on the eBook bandwagon, with 67% of libraries offering eBooks and updating these collections most often.