Monthly Archives: February 2010

Ebooks vs. Paper

Ebooks vs. Paper

Not really a battle.

I read ebooks.   I am, after many years of walking into things because my book was more interesting than the world I was walking around in, now a traitor to the book-lover community.  A turncoat. I now walk into things on the street not because I was staring at my book, but because I was staring intently at my mobile phone.

There are a number of reasons why I read ebooks:

One, I’m impatient. I can usually have the ebook NOW, whereas if I want the paper one I have to make time to go into town and buy it, or worse still, wait for it to arrive in the post.

Two, I’m still impatient. If I get bored with a book and want another one, it’s nice not to have to wait until I can get home and exchange one paper brick for another – and once you get used to ebooks, the pulped-wood variety style do start to seem a bit brickish. Where was I ? Ah yes: three.

Three, reading ebooks reduces the amount of stuff I have to carry around, because I can read them on the mobile phone I  carry anyway, hence no paper brick and no new gadget. If you have a rucksack filled with computer and books and assorted important “stuff” on your back most of the time, then this starts to seem really quite important.

Four: lots of books nowadays are full of links to websites, and if I read on a computer-type gadget, I can just click on the links directly.  With paper, I need to have even more paper in order to write a list of websites to type into my browser later.

Ok, maybe the last reason is a little bit geeky.  It doesn’t apply to works of great literature, for sure, but it’s a factor for me. However, I still have a fair-sized library of paper brick-type books, and I’m not going to be getting rid of it anytime soon. Not just because I already have the books and it would be a waste to throw them out, but also because there are still some situations where reading is important and paper’s convenient: there’s no way I’m putting an e-reader in the bathroom.

In the end, we’ll buy both.  I don’t think this just because I love books and gadgets, although I do love books and gadgets.  I say it because TV didn’t kill radio, video didn’t kill TV, and the internet hasn’t killed off its predecessors either, so it looks most likely that we’ll all buy both, to varying degrees. This war isn’t going to happen, at least not between paper and gadget: if there’s a battle, it’s gadget – gadget.  I’d bet my iPhone Kindle library on it.