For real, die-hard book-lovers, this isn’t even a question. Of course, real books triumph over e-readers! The feel of their time-worn pages turning as you plunge towards an exciting ending; the smell of old smoke, patchouli, or something altogether more mysterious, bringing you back to childhood days devouring book after book; the joy of passing a well-loved title into the hands of a friend, knowing that you are passing on a whole world to them.
But the benefits of an e-reader have begun to grow on me. The convenience of carrying a few hundred titles with you wherever you may wander, this is a pure joy any book-lover would understand. Other benefits include less heavy boxes when moving into that cool new apartment, a reasonable amount of shelves in ones house, and a zen-like attitude about dusting.
While e-readers could never fully replace some books, such as art books or your favourite dog-eared classics, I believe there is a place for them in your book-lover’s heart.
The main benefit, in my opinion, is the cheaper prices, meaning you can afford to keep up with your latest obsessions at around half the price of buying physical copies, without having to order your book ahead of time and pick it up, or hoping that your local bookstore will stock it. It’s also pretty cool having a small library in your purse. Whether you are in the mood for some philosophical musings, a fast-paced fictional tale, or some edgy erotica, your e-reader will be happy to provide, and nobody on the bus next to you gets to make knowing comments. Now that’s a bonus! (Us die-hard readers tend to be on the introverted side, and often don’t even want people to know what they are reading when it’s as innocent as Winnie-the-Pooh.)
An important caveat: don’t waste your time trying to read books on your smartphone or tablet. The screen was designed to make HD images and movies look beautiful in a darkened room, not display black text on a white background in bright sunlight, and the battery won’t last a day without charging. Save your smartphone for phone calls and your tablet for Netflix. The newest e-readers use magical e-ink, drain very little power, and weigh about the same as a small paperback. It’s the only legitimate comparison to an actual book, otherwise you might as well read on your computer screen and allow your eyes to ache daily with the strain of it.
I don’t think books are going away any time soon. But, just as mp3s have become mainstream and only audiophiles collect LP’s any more, e-books are here to stay, so get used to it. Now, I have to decide whether I want a Kindle or a Kobo….