May
7
2011

eBooks may be here to stay, but paper books aren’t going anywhere

I recently wrote about how eBooks are finally a legitimate medium for distributing books, and their statistics are actually making a huge dent in best seller lists. While it may seem that the end is near for traditional paper books, I really don’t see it that way. While eBooks may have some advantages, in many ways, real books will always be superior.

What got me started on this train of thought was my recent experience reading a few books. Two in a row were digital, and two in a row were paperback books. Thinking about how I felt about them in that direct comparison, I can’t help but feel that I’m losing a large part of the experience when it’s digital. Yes, it was pretty convenient to just have the books on my phone, and hold it with one hand on the train etc., and while the stories themselves may have transported me away, the experience is still a bit empty.

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember the first time I read The Hobbit. It was a paperback edition from the early 80’s I believe, with an orange cover, seen here. My father had read it years before me, and then my older sister had read it as well. I’m not even sure who else may have read that exact book, since I believe it was purchased in a used book store. Where had it been, who had read it? The look of it, the color, the feeling and smell of the pages. All of this hits me just thinking about The Hobbit, or The Lord of the Rings in general.

Even when I would grow tired of reading, sometimes I’d just hold the book, amazed that there’s a whole world sitting there in my hand. I’d take a look at the pages I just read, and think to myself “nice, that’s like an 1/8 of an inch, good little dent in this thing!”. It was a sense of accomplishment. A year later, I’ll see a book on my shelf and it serves as a reminder of the good time I had. A trophy representing the finish of a long journey.

Ebooks can’t replicate any of this. Like much of my digital life, it’s fun, and then it’s gone. More digital media comes my way in a wave, and washes out everything else. Those books I read are still sitting on my phone with a little cover image, but it’s empty. It doesn’t really mean anything to me. It doesn’t feel real. Yes, I know the story, and enjoyed it, but I didn’t have an experience while reading it.

I’m not really sure if this hits home with anyone, but to me, the experience of the physical book and the story go hand in hand. Knowing that there is literally a history of the book itself, with past ownership, different locations, different emotions. Tell me, how in the world can a digital file live up to this? In my eyes it can’t. I don’t just want to consume a book and move on. I want to remember the entire experience. I’m sure I’ll read more eBooks in the future, but if I’m given a choice, I’ll take a paperback any day of the week!

Related Posts

About the Author:

I like technology, sci-fi, fantasy, and anime. You know, cool geeky stuff.

Leave a comment