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.