There is no denying the immense rise in popularity of eBooks over the past five years or so. Devices such as the Kindle have helped to make books so much more accessible than before, but at what cost?
In contrast to eBooks’ popularity there has been so much doom and gloom surrounding the state of the printed book, some of which may be a little over-hyped, but does help to highlight the point nevertheless. The UK Guardian newspaper printed an article recently which stated that sales of printed books fell by £74 million in 2012, which was actually an improvement on 2011, but still a significant fall. These types of reports seem to echo all over the world as more and more people seem to abandon the physical book in favor of the electronic versions.
While printed books are far from dead, I am admittedly a little saddened by their apparent coming demise. This is certainly not because I am old fashioned and have a dislike of technology, I love technology. In fact, I am usually one of the first people to rush out to get my hands on the latest shiny gadget, but when it comes to enjoying a good book I do not think the experience can be replicated with an electronic device.
The “physical book vs eBook” debate is a widely contested one with the younger generation of readers being more inclined to side with the e-Reader. They are of course growing up in a world that has been taken over by electronic gadgetry, and things that purport to make life easier. This generation mainly sees physical books as cumbersome and not very convenient when compared to the highly portable eBook readers. What doesn’t help is the fact that the joys of reading a physical book cannot be easily translated to someone who hasn’t had the experience, except to say that it’s just a different feeling — or a different experience.
Personally I enjoy picking up a book simply because I spend most of my days staring at screens anyway. Between my laptop, my phone, and my television I am completely screened out by the end of the day. Burying my head in a good book is a welcome relief for my eyes and my brain. I fear that if I were to begin reading all my books on an eBook reader, then reading would not really feel like something I do in my downtime.
It feels very difficult to argue on the side of physical books without sounding like an old fogey, but that is a risk I am now prepared to take. I am on the side of the printed book, what side are you on?