Thursday, July 16, 2009

eBooks and Books

Sorry it took me so long to write this post! It was sitting in my mind and then somehow laziness and new books took over - I blame my job, because it leaves me with enough free time to read at the desk!

The question, or topic, that I'd like to tackle today is why do we read what we read - books or eBooks? There are pros and cons to both mediums; physical books have at their core the emotional attachment that I think comes, in part, from the tactile sensation of having a book in your hands and reading it. The ability to run your fingers across the pages, or make notes in the margins - in effect, the reader's ability to make the book their own. And with time, physical books take on the look and smell of their history. Men and women can remember their past, the good and the bad, through the books they've read. The reality of their existence and the tangible proof that books can provide of the times.

eBooks have a different type of appeal - convenience. The convenience of having thousands of titles at your fingertips, no waiting with no worrying about space. However much computer memory you have, that's how much you can fill with things to read. And with the creation of the Amazon Kindle, eBook proponents have an even bigger motivation - the Kindles are lighter and even easier to carry around with you than regular books. Where a good sized hardcover might be responsible for an aching shoulder and an over packed bag, the Kindle is compact and durable. Even more than that, technologies like the Kindle appeal to the present consumer's need for instant gratification. At a person's whim they can have at their fingertips newspapers, magazines, AND books. It's amazing the kind of emotional bond a person would be willing to forgo for that type of convenience.

The picture I used here isn't really an example of my own opinion though. I love ALL books. No lie. And in college I found myself understanding the appeal of the eBook. I just didn't have the same kind of access to books in college. No car and with just an academic library nearby, the situation left me without almost any other avenue to explore. Luckily, I can say I found some great things; authors and titles that I know have enriched my reading experience. On the other end of the spectrum I've also found books that weren't worth my time, and the rare one or two that I wouldn't even finish reading (something has to be REALLY bad for that to happen).

Still, at the end of the day, I love curling up in my bed with a book. To lie down and look at a favorite and see the wear and tear of my usage. Books even have a smell that has been incorporated into my sense understanding and attachment to the activity. I've even been known to print out eBooks, the urge to hold it in my hands has been so strong. So I might have been lying before and print books might be my favorite. BUT eBooks are never left out in the cold, and it's been my joy to say I've seen some of the best authors make the leap from virtual to print - because while legitimacy doesn't come from the printed word, a readily recognizable name and popularity are increased by the consumers ability to browse. And that's one thing I think print books definitely have over eBooks - there's nothing like running your fingertips across the spines of books in your bookstore or library. eBooks have nothing on that.