Bibliophiles get in here!
Would you rather read a book on your computer or mobile device or would you rather hold an actual “flesh and blood” book and turn the pages while inhaling the scent of ink? What side of the divide do you stand? Technology or tradition? I’m on the fence on this one.
This post was partially inspired by this post on Tibs blog and the many comments my friends who are published writers make about loving the feel of paper and the pleasure of turning pages. I’ve decided to look at some of the pros and cons of ebooks.Truth is, they are the future of publishing and a bias against them is ultimately going to be futile.
Pros of ebooks
Mass: Were you expecting me to say weight? My secondary school physics teacher would have my head! ebooks are digital and so have no actual mass and you can have a thousand of them on your device and the device won’t be any heavier. I have over three hundred books on my tab and about two hundred books on my phone and it’s easy to lug them about. If you’re worried about the memory on your device, don’t be. Most of them are very light and are rarely larger than one megabyte. To put it in the right perspective, that’s lighter than that selfie you took yesterday on your phone 😉
Space: the only space they occupy are on the memory of the device and the physical space they occupy is that of the device. When I was in the university, I bought hundreds of novels. Subconsciously I was following my father’s footsteps, he also bought a ton of books while he was in uni. Like all arduous things, my uni days came to an end and I had to bring my things home and it cost me plenty to transport my books to Lagos. The books were so many that there’s still no space in my wardrope even after selling two hundred books.
Availability: I’ll start with a story. When I was in my fourth year in school I bought a certain book on anecdotes and I totally liked it. A certain friend asked to borrow it, all my instincts warned against it but I ignored them and gave it to him. That was about five years ago and I haven’t seen that book since. The painful part was that he collected it less than a week after I bought it and spun the most ridiculous stories I’d ever heard to explain its absence. The good news is- this year, I found it online and now I have my beautiful book on my tab and on my phone.
Cost: they are easier to manufacture and distribute. If you’re self publishing then going to the ebook route makes total sense
Pollution: Paper is a byproduct of wood which is obtained by logging in forests. Obviously if the demand for paper decreases, then logging will reduce.
Cons of ebooks
Piracy: unfortunately that’s the main hazard in e publishing, one person could buy a book and distribute it to all his friends. The publishers get nada, zilch, zero, nothing. While this also applies to printed books, it’s not easy to track down the people behind this menace. There are thousands of sites that offer free books, some of them are so amazing that they offer current bestselling novels and textbooks. How do I know this? *cough* research for this post *cough*
Distractions: it’s definitely easier to concentrate with an actual book than with a mobile device especially if the device is internet enabled. Unless you’re using an ebook reader like a kindle and even those ones are morphing into tablets these days, it’s hard to resist the lure of checking Facebook, Twitter, instagram etc.
Nostalgia: Like I said earlier, there are several people who prefer holding a book, turning pages and inhaling the scent of ink and ebooks just don’t cut it 4 them.
Complexity: ebooks come in various formats eg .lit, .rar, pdf, epub etc and more often than not most ebook readers- devices and apps are usually format specific. You might end up with more than one ebook reader and may not even know which books go with which reader.
We’ve looked at various pros and cons for ebooks, however whether we like it on not, ebooks are the future. Look at the history of literacy and see how books have changed over centuries, from papyrus parchments to monks copying scriptures by hand in monasteries, to Gutenburg whose printing press laid the ground work for today’s books.
Finally it doesn’t matter what format we read our books, electronic or paper. Just read.