Except the book is not dead yet. As a matter of fact, far from it. The electronic vs. paper books seems to be a popular debate for today’s avid readers. Should we get our intake of literature from ink or pixels? Well… why choose just one option when you can have both? This is not going to be about the ongoing discussion where “the real book feels better in my hands and I like the smell of paper”, although I wholeheartedly agree. This is about what goes beyond personal preference and the olfactory sense.
It’s naïve to think that once you have purchased an e-reader you will completely give up the paper form. There are still many books that are not available electronically, so there goes that plan. If you happen to be a student, a book reviewer, or simply someone who needs to read a specific title, you will soon find out that although most e-readers allow notes, it’s still more convenient to write and stick Post-it notes on paper. I once did a course where the material (1000 page text book) was an online e-book, and ended up buying the paper format (I could study easier and it was better for my eyes since I was reading it at odd hours). I could place my sticky notes wherever I wanted and I could find my signs much easier.
But let’s assume that you have the absolute freedom of what you read (congratulations). Then it’s much more convenient to own an e-reader and enjoy your favorite author/book. You could bring the large book you never wanted to carry around with you in vacation. Even better, nobody can look at what you are reading, something that always drives me crazy. Tempting, right?
I myself will make the step of purchasing a Kindle this autumn. No, I won’t give up paper form, but I just realized that life is so much easier knowing I have the option of the Kindle books. Let me tell you a little boring story:
In September I will be moving to UK for study purposes. I will be there for four months and no matter how I look at it the baggage weight is 20 kg. As I have no life and people are as scary as the outdoors, I will read a lot. Since literature students are not only known by their skills to bore the hell out of others, but also as carrying around huge
tomes textbooks, I have little space and baggage weight left for my own choice of books. Therefore, I would love to fit kilograms and kilograms of yummy literature in one teeny-weeny Kindle. Who’s the overachiever? Me!
This September my local library is holding a series of lectures/debates/readings where the theme will be electronic vs. paper books. I will do my very best to attend some, if not all, and see what the general opinion is. Until now all I’ve seen is a general attitude of choosing e-books over traditional ones, or the other way around.
I sense a tendency to publish more and more books in electronic format. In a day and age where people can’t seem to think of themselves without a computer waiting for them at home, or a smartphone in their pocket, I say it’s a pretty good thing. By making the book electronic we make it cool. It’s back IN. The book is “cool” now. We’re bringing sexy back….in the…book (No Sandra Brown reference intended).
In my recent vacation in Romania I found a book machine (for lack of a better word). No, it’s not [insert your favorite prolific author], but an actual machine. How cool is that? In Sweden a certain brand of water gives you a code that you can use to download an e-book. The fact that books are now also in electronic format increased the possibilities that people who otherwise are not fans of reading will start reading again. Not only that, but it increased the cool factor by a lot. More and more video games are being inspired by books (The Witcher for example) making the kids want to read the source of inspiration. And if they can read it on a “cool” device they are all in for more.
Last year Amazon sold more e-books than physical ones. Depending on what your stance on the matter is you might rejoice on this little fact or not. But what if I told you that it seems that the people who bought the Kindle bought up to four times more books than before? I believe we should not see the rise of the e-book as the death of books in general, but the reinvention of it, a sort of renaissance of reading. I’m not sure if in 100 years from now the paper books will be eradicated, leaving space only for the leather-bound and luxurious editions, but as I see it we are witnessing interesting times regarding books. This can be the start of something truly beautiful.