I remember the day when I felt the pull of books for the first time. I was perhaps four or five years old at that time and couldn’t read. But the sight of colourful books and the smell of their fresh print pulled me to them like even chocolates couldn’t. As I grew up and started acquiring books, building up a books collection became my hobby. And each book in that collection was so precious to me that I considered them safe only in a closed iron bookcase.
But that changed when I acquired a smartphone and a tablet device and started reading ebooks. My collection of print books is still precious to me. But now, I find ebooks more convenient. Here’s what I think are the advantages and disadvantages of both formats.
Ebooks vs Print Books
Ebooks are more convenient. Here’s why:
Ebooks take less space: Every avid reader likes hording books. And just the thought of discarding a book is painful. But while our hunger for books is unlimited, the space in our homes is very limited. And it must accommodate the belongings of the entire family. So with time, it gets harder and harder to store our beloved books. No such problem with ebooks. Even a smartphone can store hundreds and thousands.
Easy to carry around: Ebooks are super easy to carry around. In fact, you can carry around your entire library in just your smartphone or other reading devices like Kindle. The entire library takes up less space in your bag than a single paperback book.
Ebooks can be read anywhere, anytime: As the ebooks can live inside your phone and because we are now never without our phone, the books can stay with us all the time too. And it doesn’t matter where we are and in what lighting conditions, ebooks can be read anywhere.
Ebooks don’t get damaged: Someone who is not a reader cannot understand the pain of a reader whose favourite book gets damaged. Even if the smartphone or the eReader device gets damaged or stolen, the books can still be recovered. Ebooks purchased from popular ebooks sellers like Amazon remain safe and synced on user accounts on these sites. And even the ebooks downloaded from other sources can be backed up on cloud storage services like Dropbox.
No fear of lending and losing your book: Booklovers hate nothing more than having to lend their book because we know that the book might not come back to them. No such danger with ebooks.
Easier to check word meanings, take notes and share passages: Most e-book reading apps and eReader devices have several very useful features that make it easy to check up word meanings, highlight text, take notes and share favourite passages.
Easier to read with just one hand: A smartphone or an eReader device like Kindle can be operated with one hand. So it is easier to read the book with one hand. And even if the book closes accidentally, its progress gets auto bookmarked. You don’t have to flip through the pages to reach what you were reading.
Less harmful for environment: No trees get sacrificed to create an ebook.
UPDATE 14 April 2020: The COVID-19 epidemic has shown one more benefit of eBooks. They can be bought even in lockdown and download to your device instantly! You don’t even need to sanitize them 😀
These are the reasons why I prefer ebooks. But in the fight of ebooks vs print books, there are many reasons why people still love print books best.
Print books give joy beyond the words of the books. Here’s why:
The feel and smell of book: We don’t just read books, we inhale them, we admire them, we drink them in with out eyes. And yes, the feel of the rustling pages, the smoothness of a book’s cover and the fragrance of a newly printed book is as important for us as sight and smell of food is important for foodies.
The joy of looking at the cover: Yes, we know a book must not be judged by its cover. But a beautiful cover still is a delight to gaze at while thinking and dreaming of the characters living in the book.
Less stressful for eyes: Reading a print book for long duration, especially in dim light, can tire the eyes. But the eye strain is still less than one produced by staring at the bright screens. Reading print books for too long might give poor eyesight. But staring at bright displays, especially in dark, can cause many serious eye ailments.
The joy of building up a book collection: No greater pride for a book lover than a grand collection of books. And no greater joy than looking at this collection and adorning all possible living spaces with well-stocked bookcases. No number of ebooks stored in a reading device can give the pride of ownership that physical books do.
Putting small notes on the margins: While many readers would tremble at the thought of scribbling on their books, some readers enjoy jotting down personal feelings, making quick notes or doodling on the margins of their books. Discovering books with such personal notes is a delight too. Notes of ebooks can’t equal these delights.
I can say I still love print books. I love all the precious books I have gathered in my book collections. And arranging and re-arranging my bookcase is a delight that organizing books on Kindle cannot equal. Yet, the truth is that I have not bought a paperback since I started reading ebooks. Even though one of the biggest publishers of the world called ebooks as ‘stupid’ recently, they are far from it. I enjoy the convenience they give and never felt the magic of words getting less by being in a digital format. A great book would remain a great book, no matter what the format.
What do you think? Which book format do you prefer?
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