It’s something I’ve always found ridiculous, that when you bring up the fact you have an e-reader in conversation, some people look at you in disgust and launch into a furious rant about how ebooks are the most evil thing since Satan himself. More than anything, how I choose to read is just that – my choice – and yet some people seem to believe themselves defenders of the paperback, and in their eyes, defenders of all that is good in this world.
I can see some light in their argument. For me, there’s nothing better than the smell of a new book (other than the smell of a brand new glossy magazine). And yes, paperbacks don’t run out of battery. But buying ebooks rather than paperbacks isn’t going to ruin reading forever.
Sure, the book industry isn’t at its healthiest and many independent book shops are now closed, as well as the loss of borders on the UK high street, but I wouldn’t blame this on the ebook. Of course, it must have had some effect on their sales, but nothing as magnetising as the draw of buying a book for a few pounds cheaper online. And this still hasn’t meant the loss of books on our high street- HMV stock more than just music books and often have great deals on classics and supermarkets have an expanding section of books that can often be purchased cheaper than online. And even so, is this the end of the world? Isn’t new technology all about convenience anyway? We invented the car so we didn’t have to walk and the mobile phone so we would always be contactable.
Certainly convenience is a major reason why I own my kindle anyway. Never one for having my next book lined up and ready, I hated the impatient wait for a chance to visit a shop or for the post man to arrive with an amazon parcel. But now I can have my book instantaneously and I don’t even need my kindle with me to read it due to the handy kindle app for iPhone. Who wouldn’t want their life to be a little bit easier? And even so, it’s incredibly convenient to carry around anyway.
It’s not just this. I have always found holding a book hideously uncomfortable. I can never seem to get a great reading position that allows me to be able to see both pages without bending the spine (something that then leaves books looking ugly and old). And now I no longer have this problem. An e-reader is thin and lightweight and only requires one hand to hold it. There is no more struggling to find a comfortable position and no more bent spines.
On top of this, they have other awesome features, like the internet. I often get curious when reading things if I come across something I want to know more about and will stop to google. As well as this, the inbuilt dictionary will give you the definition of a word when you hover over it and you can also put mp3 files onto a kindle to listen to music as well (not something I’ve used I must confess, as I prefer a silent reading atmosphere). You can also change the font size (brilliant if you really hate small print books like me), or flip the screen sideways. A paperback can’t do that now, can it?
It does have its downsides of course, but even so ereaders aren’t that bad. Very rarely do I have to charge my kindle battery (unless I leave the 3G/Wifi on) and although the initial investment seems steep, you get tons of free books and ebooks tend to be a bit cheaper (great on a student budget I must say).
But shouldn’t we as readers just be glad people are reading, rather than fussing about the format? I still read paperbacks now and again, largely due to my “whatever works out cheapest philosophy”. The other day I got 16 books in a charity shop for less than £10, which couldn’t be done on kindle (discounting the free titles of course). Truthfully in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. Still, I know I’ll be fighting off a fair few more paperback maniacs in my lifetime before this argument rests.