E-Readers (and E-Books) have long been the source of much contention. Are they better than physical books? Worse than physical books? Will e-books eventually make physical books obsolete? The opinions are many and varied with about as many people arguing pro as con.
Personally, I think E-Readers are terrific in addition to physical books. In my world, e-books will never replace physical books, but there is a time and a place for both and there are just some situations where e-books are so much handier than physical books. Take my post from last week as an example – I used to have to lug around tons of heavy books whenever I went on vacation. It took up valuable luggage space, and made my backpack even heavier than it had to be. With an e-reader I can just bring one gadget about the size and weight of an average paperback, and I’m good to go!
I have had some sort of e-reader since 2005. I started out with a Palm Tungsten T5, graduated through an unhandy Nokia phone through to the BeBook One, the Kindle app on various other gadgets and finally the Kindle Keyboard. For each upgrade reading e-books became more and more handy and hassle-free, and I’m now at a point where I definitely wouldn’t want to be without an e-reader of some sort.
But for pure coziness of reading, I still prefer physical books. There’s just something special about the act of turning pages that doesn’t quite translate to pressing a button on an e-reader.
An e-reader is really best for reading from A-Z. Flipping through a book to look for something specific is almost impossible as I tend to remember where things were written by how the book “feels” (approx. how many pages are left, was it on a right or a left page etc.) rather than the specific page number.
Apart from the sensation of reading paper books vs. e-books, there’s also the issue of a physical library vs. a digital one. I’m proud of the library I’ve managed to put together by now. I would like it to be bigger, but who wouldn’t?! 😉 I like looking at my books, picking out old favourites to read a page here and a paragraph there. I like seeing a wall full of books and knowing that I’ve read them all. Looking at folders on a computer just isn’t the same. Also I like having guests comment on my books and loaning books to others – and most people I know feel a LOT more comfortable browsing bookshelves in a living room, than browsing folders on a computer. The former is perfectly acceptable within etiquette, the latter definitely isn’t unless expressed permission has been given.
An e-reader is a lot more egoistic than physical books. Mum didn’t bring along enough books when we were on vacation together last. Had this been BER (Before E-Reader 😉 ) I could just have given her one of mine to read, as I was bound to have brought several, but we couldn’t very well both use the e-reader at the same time, so I couldn’t be of any help. And I like being of help!
Will the market for E-readers continue to grow? Absolutely! Will it completely replace physical books? I highly doubt it. Collectors and bibliophiles such as myself might choose to extend their libraries with an e-book collection, but we will never let go of our physical books completely. The touch and feel of them (as well as their decorative value in our homes) is too special.