eBooks or “Real” Books?

kindleAuthors stand up for traditional books over e-books
Article by Louise Gray
The Telegraph: July 21, 2013

Just a few years after the launch of the Kindle, old fashioned books are making a comeback as authors promote the joy of bookshelves and well thumbed pages over the e-book.

I found myself quite annoyed by this article on the comeback of old fashioned books.

Philosopher Alain de Botton says he “dumped e-books when he realised the information didn’t really sink in without physical contact with a real book… I found that whatever I read on my Kindle I couldn’t really remember in the long term. It was as if I had never read it.” This may be true for him, but it’s certainly not my experience, or that of most other ebook readers, or we too would give them up.

I find digital reading to be a better experience — when I was reading my first ebook on my first Kindle, I found it awkward for about the first fifty pages, and then suddenly everything just clicked. My thumb was turning the page effortlessly, and I had the strange and thrilling sensation that the author was sitting at a keyboard writing and the text was going directly into my mind. I can’t explain it better than that, it just felt so much smoother than holding a physical book. I now read for longer periods of time than I did with print, and I read more because I am never without a book and all waiting time has become reading time. I rarely buy or borrow print books anymore, but I see this as a matter of personal preference. I don’t like the implication that either the print or digital format is somehow superior for everyone.

joebeanAuthor Jilly Cooper talks about how she missed being able to take notes in ebooks the way she does in print books: “I like to scribble all over [books] and write things and say ‘Well done’ and ‘God how awful’ and ‘Let’s remember that bit’. I always underline good bits and turn over the pages of bits that absolutely knock me out.” I think that writers are more likely to make this sort of notes than most readers. I was never much interested in taking notes in books. Writing in books always felt like defacement to me, even in my own books. (Possibly this is related to being a librarian.) I’ve always disliked finding notes (or worse, wavering lines of ugly yellow highlighter) in used books I’ve bought. But I do highlight text and make notes now using Kindle, and this meets my needs perfectly, since the highlighting and notes are attached to the text but I can see them or hide them as I am reading.

As you can see, I get defensive when I read articles like this or hear people talking about the superiority of “real” books. But maybe that’s how other people feel when they hear people like me going on and on about the obvious (to me) superiority of ebooks.

As toywithwords noted in the comments on this article: “…the words are the most important part of books, everything else is packaging.