A peer of mine wrote this interesting and informative article on the value of ebooks. Sales on Ebooks are diving downward in relation to their physical copies, and publishers are scrambling to figure out why. Max made some interesting points that I’d never thought about, but I personally prefer physical copies of books and will defend my paperbacks and hardcovers till the day I die.
Besides the obvious greater tactile feedback, I feel that print books are infinitely superior to an ebook.
For books that I own personally, they serve as momentos of phases in my life and intellectual awakenings. I hold dearly my tattered copies of Harry Potter from my middle school years, my marked up version of The Awakening from college, and even my favorite children’s books, some of which have notes from whoever gifted them to me, including my deceased great-grandmother. These books are priceless to me. An essence of me is now in them, and I can pass them on to my child to love and enjoy them as much as I did. On the other hand, once I’ve finished an e-book, chances are that I’m never going to look at it ever again, and I’m certainly not going to save it for little Oliver.
Which brings up the point of durability. Physical books can last longer simply because media platforms are continuously changing. Kindles might not even be around in 10-20 years, or at the very least, my ebook copies now will unlikely be compatible with whatever technology we’re using in the not too distant future.
A print book’s jacket also allows those around you to see what you’re reading, which can make the process a more communal event and open discussions. I often get ideas for what to read next by seeing what other people are reading. I’ve asked several strangers in my travels about the books in their hands. I would never dare ask a stranger on a tablet or other device what they were doing on it. How do I know that they’re reading anything? You can sit on the metro and talk about books, or you can all sit in silence staring at your devices.
Furthermore, science backs up that a print book is better for your health and memory. Studies show that the ebook backlight messes with your ability to sleep and your melatonin production. Melatonin affects our overall health and can even help prevent cancer. Conclusion? Ebooks cause cancer! Okay, that’s a stretch of a correlation. But you get the picture. Various studies have also shown that readers are better able to retain information when they read a print book versus an ebook, which is why the transition to electronic textbooks in colleges totally ticks me off!
All in all, for me, a physical book holds a sense of reverence. I have greater respect for the content inside. It’s not something that can be simply copied or pirated or downloaded or whatever means you get your digital media. It’s almost like the difference between listening to a symphony live or recorded. Calm me crazy, but there’s something innately calming about walking into a bookstore or library. I get warm fuzzies in my heart and enjoy the sensation of just being around books. A sense of wonder flares up inside of me as I ponder all the stories around me and what I might find today.
4 thoughts on “Print Books, I Summon Your Power!”
Thanks for the pingback and adding your two cents! You may want to read the follow-up article as it addresses much of the feedback I received, but I thought I’d hop in to point out a few discrepancies you’ve made in your post.
Actually, this isn’t true. Ebook sales are still on the rise, it’s physical book sales that are diving downward. In fact, I even discussed this in the original post: A lot of book publishers (the ones eschewing ebooks) have argued that ebooks are “dying” and that physical books are on the way back, but it’s not true. More people are starting to read than ever, but the large majority of that has been on ebook, not physical books. The idea that ebooks are in a dive is not true at all, and isn’t borne out by the last decade or so of book sales. In fact, one of the only areas where gains exist is in ebooks; books across the board otherwise have fallen, hence the closure of so many bookstores.
I can concede on the fact that maybe ebooks aren’t down, but many credible sites and large publishers are saying that they are while others are saying that they aren’t. I don’t understand much about economics however and am only going off of the articles I’ve read.
While there’s no evidence of it happening yet, the same has been true of movies, music, video games, cell phones, tablets, and from a marketing perspective it just makes sense. You gotta change things up in order for people to buy upgraded technology. Project Gutenberg is a good example, but it is also caters to niche audiences, not to the mainstream.
Red is actually the only light wavelength that doesn’t affect your melatonin cycle. I know that because I have melatonin deficiency. While some people have kindles or devices specifically for ebooks, a lot of people I know that read ebooks don’t because they already have a phone or tablet and don’t want to spend the extra money when they already have a compatible device.
If you’re referring to the study that was published by the Guardian, I know that a university in California also did a study. I personally think the tactile feedback could be responsible for the memory retention. The more engaged my senses are, the more able I am to retain information personally.
I will definitely have to read that article and your follow-up post!
A lot of those “credible sites” are just repeating news dockets sent out by publishers, who have made a very public effort to decry ebooks (mostly because they’re getting their butts kicked by them). Many of them “fix” the numbers by omitting genres, or polling very specific age groups to make the numbers go in their favor, but the further back one pulls, the better ebooks look. From a whole, taking in all book sales across all genres, ebooks are doing absolute damage, with steady growth every year while physical sales are dropping by 5-10% a year to compensate.
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Long live the physical book! Actual print/paper and ink copies of books have been around for thousands of years… Take that, Apple! I don’t just prefer the tactile sensation and the ability to bring the story anywhere with you (can’t get a signal on your phone? no problem!), but it’s also the intense emotional experience, like you said. Looking at your shelves and remembering who gave you the book, the first time you read it, etc. So valuable to our hearts and minds!