Print Books vs E-Books

bookAlright, I’m gonna rant here, I can’t help it. I have a Linked In account and I belong to several writers’ groups there and it’s almost a daily occurrence to see a debate about ebooks vs. print books, and to be honest, I’m just sick and tired of the whole argument.

From the point of view of an aspiring writer who has published one erotica book under a pseudonym and one collection of short stories years ago when electronic self-publishing first came out, let me just say that I don’t care in WHAT format someone buys my books as long as they READ them.

See, here’s the thing…for years, we’ve been seeing in the news how horrible American schools are nowadays, how 90-gazillion percent of high school seniors graduating are reading well below their grade levels. Rather than arguing over which reading PACKAGING is better or worse, shouldn’t we just be glad that people are READING?!

book2Seriously, if I see one more person eloquently state how they savor the fresh scent of a paper book, rejoice in the feeling of the pages moving so softly between their fingers, and relish the weight of a book in their hands, I’m gonna very eloquently vomit on their friggin’ book. A book is to be read…not made love to. I don’t care if the damned thing is written on a NAPKIN, a paper bag, or parchment laced with gold, all I care about are the words that someone took the time to put together into sentences and build into a story.

Ebooks are not going to be the death of literature, no matter how many people seem to think they are. Electronic publishing DOES have it’s advantages, even if most people won’t acknowledge them. For instance:

  • Some aspiring authors can’t afford the expensive marketing and publishing costs today, so the only way for them to get published is to do it themselves.
  • By the same token, unless an author is lucky enough to get that huge multi-million dollar advanced payment contract that we all dream of, chances are they are working a full-time job and don’t have the time to market their book and shop around for an agent, a publisher, etc.
  • If not for things like Project Gutenberg, there is a very good chance that a LOT of obscure, out-of-print books would have been lost in the sands of time by now. How incredible is it that some of those old tomes have been preserved electronically?!
Amazon_Kindle_3
Kindle 3

I have a Kindle. I bought my Kindle when they came out with the second-generation version in early 2009, when they still cost a fortune even. It was my Christmas gift to myself using my Christmas money and money I saved up, and it is probably one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever bought. A year or so later, I bought a third-generation Kindle and gave the older one to my mother-in-law. Two years ago, I bought my eldest niece one for her high school graduation and bought one for my mother for her birthday.

My niece LOVES her Kindle, uses it all the time, and loves to get Amazon gift cards to buy new books to read. One thing I have never regretted is buying books for each of my nieces and nephew every year and instilling a love of reading in them, picking out books that I loved as a kid (like Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia) as well as books I know they want, and I won’t regret buying each of them a Kindle as they get older. (And for the record, my 19-year-old niece’s favorite book of all-time is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn:))

My mom loves her Kindle as well, especially the fact that she can enlarge the font to make reading easier on her eyes, one of the reasons she said she hadn’t been reading as many books in the last several years. She now reads every day on her Kindle.

We bought my stepson a Kindle Fire for Christmas in 2011, and he loves that as well. He was one of those boys who really didn’t like to read, but in the last few years, he’s been reading like crazy.

The debate over whether ebooks will make printed books obsolete is stupid (yes, my opinion–STUPID). For one thing, I think there will always be a place for printed books, just as there is still a place for vinyl record albums, CDs, and live musical acts. But just the fact that people are actually READING–THAT is what’s important!! Who cares what format the material is in as long as they are READING!

carDo we really need to see the same arguments fighting against advancing technology every time something new comes along? Many people believe ebooks are just a passing fad. Sure they are–just like automobiles were–and electricity–and radio–and film–and the telephone–and the computer.

I am always amazed and astounded by technology. When I realized that I could carry an entire library in my purse, you bet I was excited!   And yes, I immediately started saving my money up to get one! And I haven’t regretted that purchase for a minute. Besides being able to carry so many books with me, the fact that I can download the next book in a series when I finish the previous one, that I don’t have to go out to a bookstore (or wait for it to be open if it’s the middle of the night), that I can switch from one book to another without having to pick one up and put one down, that I don’t have to keep bugging my husband to build me another bookcase–those things alone were worth it!

Really, just quit with the arguments and debates over which is better. Keep buying and reading your print books if that’s what you prefer. I won’t knock it; I get it! But don’t knock ebooks either! Just be glad people are READING!

6 thoughts on “Print Books vs E-Books

  1. I am not worried that e-books will be the end of my paper books but as you prefer your e-books, I am one of those that loves the feel of holding a book in hand. I also like the smell of a book (yes, I am weird). There is something about holding a book and turning the pages, that I enjoy…
    but I could care less what others do… As long as people are reading, that is a wonderful thing!

  2. There are nice things about printed books, there are definitely authors and publishing houses where I will definitely buy the analog books from, but ebooks are the future and the present. And 90% of the time that is what I will buy now. The ability to carry your whole library on an SD card is insane. I wish I could bring myself to get rid of most of the books in my apartment. I would clear up so much space, but I haven’t been able to declutter them out of my life completely yet. As I do replace things with their ebook equivalent it does make it easier (atleast for non-artbooks).

    My only complaints with ebooks are Amazon’s shitty practices and proprietary format. Everything should be ePub and DRM free. And the price. I’ve read the arguments as to why the pricing is what it is, but it is bullshit and until the price comes down to a number that makes sense it’s going to make it harder for people to make the move completely.

  3. You both make great points. I have no problem with whatever format people prefer to read, just as long as people are READING. I’m just so sick of its always being a debate over which is better. I’m actually considering quitting the two or three writers’ groups I’m in on LinkedIn simply because they seem to argue about this shit more than talk about writing.

    Neither is better in every way. I agree about the ePub and DRM free thing, though having a Kindle, it’s not really a thing for me. And the pricing too, though with some books/authors I don’t care what the price is, I will buy it anyway. I do tend to get a lot of free ebooks (which is an awesome way to find authors/books I’d probably never read otherwise).

    But yeah, some books will never be able to be adapted to electronic format – House of Leaves is a great example. Haha, I can’t find my copy and want to read that again, so I’m planning a trip to a brick and mortar store to buy it (since there are no bookstores near me). There are also some books I’ll always want to buy in hardcover–or collector’s editions or art books.

    I will always have print books, but for most of my normal reading (which I guess I’d call “paperback” reading in print), all of those have switched over to ebooks for me.

    1. Actually, something like House of Leaves is the perfect book for being ported to a digital version. It wouldn’t work right now for the current e-paper since it is just b&w, but as soon as color really hits the e-paper market all bets are off. And when it comes the more tablet-y readers (kindle fire, ipad, etc.) the possibilities are endless. Image slideshows, audio clips, videos. I could see Danielewski doing something amazing with the format.

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