When was the last time you took a walk around a bookshop? Revelled in the peace that only comes from rooms insulated by reams of novels? Felt the wonder of words wresting to burst out of their pages and lodge themselves in your brain. As I listened to the debate rage on, thanks to having a bundle of reading family and friends all with a variety of thoughts on the matter, it seemed time to point score the different mediums. This is by no means comprehensive and it was done in a haphazard, non-scientific way, whilst drinking snowballs!
The e-book is malleable. It can meet any requirements. It can be back-lit and enlarged. It can even provide dictionary definitions as you read, all of which add to the experience. A book is pretty much set. If you need a large print text you need to try and find one – which isn’t always possible – or you may need to buy a magnifier. If you want to read at night, you need to purchase a light. There are a lot of add-ons required to make an actual book flexible.
However, there have been studies done which prove that remembering the context in which you learned a particular piece of information can assist in retention. Remembering that one interesting fact or anecdote from a particular book can be prompted by your visual memory of the text – something which would be less differentiated if all your reading material is on the same screen. This could indicate that you are less likely to absorb information gleaned from an e-reader. For me, with my terrible memory, this is a potentially huge failing which pushes books into the lead!
Both e-book fans and traditionalists admit that a digital copy of a book is often cheaper, but only marginally. However there is the Amazon lending library where you can actively avoid late fees and some amazing books are often available for limited periods for free or at next to nothing cost. This can be a huge plus when you are yearning for something to read but are a few days away from a pay day and live far away from a library (something which is becoming more common thanks to devastating closures in many areas of Lancashire.)
This is the part where I begin to have trouble with the e-book. It has been an amazing way for many talented writers to publish without the rigmarole of fighting agents. The downside is that you have to sift through a lot of terrible writing to find the gems, often relying on anonymous user reviews. If you’re like me and need to know the end of a story, this can result in being forced to follow through when you would love nothing more than to burn alive printed pages if they existed. This discovery of those terrible narratives which should never have been delivered for human consumption can be excessively tiresome. It also led to the rise in popularity and excessive sales of 50 Shades of Grey, a text with more repetition and cringeworthy lines than anything ever seen before in print.
Alternatively, the published book guarantees at least a level of commercial quality. It has been refined and polished within an inch of its life. It is certainly a finished product. Yes, the offbeat, indie and original can find it difficult to break through, but in general there is little risk of buying a book than is badly aligned, published in comic sans (which should be obliterated from the annals of history) and filled with self indulgent twaddle. There are also some wonderful indie publishers like Blue Moose and Burning Eye who put out some brilliant texts.
Sitting in a bath – zip lock back meaning that you can just press a button to turn the page instead of having wrinkly pages or still worse – dropping the whole book in. Great for papier-mâché – not so great for an avid reader. The reader is light and easily transportable. My partner is away for work at months at a time but is able to carry his whole library with him A book can be clunky and require a large amount of room to store and you certainly can’t travel with a large collection with modern luggage restrictions!
But when things go wrong with an e-book, you will have to pay a large sum of money to replace it – or pay a fair amount to initially insure it. It also requires charging and a level of protection that your average paperback does not require. Sometimes you buy a trashy novel for a holiday, then want a lighter bag on the way home and ditch it. Your e-book is much less disposable. It is also bendy, can be bashed about and is cheap to replace when worn out. (I can atone to this as I recently purchased a replacement of The Stand by Stephen King, a book so loved, it fell to pieces in my hands!)
Also – I love bookshelves as a design feature in a room. I am firm in the belief that children who grow up in houses where books are a main visible feature grow to accept this as the norm and that it can really help in developing their own collection.
You are nothing without an antique typewriter and a real book.
REAL WORLD INTEGRITY
Stop being hipster and move with the times.
So there you have it. If you were keeping track, I believe that actual books finished marginally ahead of e-books, but that is mainly down to my own preference. To be honest, anything that keeps people reading and keeps writers in work, is ok by me. I hope you all enjoy having a good read over the holidays!
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