If You Don’t Like eBooks, You Don’t Really Like Books

Documenting-historyThings are being said about heft. About weight, feel, smell, texture. There’s a nostalgia in licking a finger to turn the page. About the flutter of pages in a soft breeze on a summer afternoon. Lovely. These things are nice. But they don’t have anything to do with reading. They’re lovely, they’re wonderful to reminisce over, but they’re about to become a thing of the past.

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And they really should be. Lugging around a huge copy of Infinite Jest is not reading, it’s annoying. It’s back breaking (not to mention pretentious). Opening a book to that well-worn favorite crease is not reading, it’s remembering. It’s a different experience than an ebook, which when you turn it on, feels a little like you’re about to check your email or watch a movie. But you’re not. This is how reading a book feels now, and that’s okay. Like my mom would say when comparing my sister and I, “You’re just different. Not any better or worse. Just different.”

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But that’s not exactly true. I am better than my sister, and ebooks are better than “traditional” books, which from now on I’ll just call old.

If you are so attached to all the accoutrements of old books that you don’t see how awesome ebooks are, I have something to say to you: you don’t really like reading. You like people to think you like reading. You like the idea of yourself liking reading. But if you really liked to read, you’d understand that, though you may miss old books for a minute, ebooks are better for reading, and so, better for readers.

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You can still use libraries. You can still spread out on the lawn at the park. It’s just easier now. Less focused on smelling books, more focused on reading them.

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3 thoughts on “If You Don’t Like eBooks, You Don’t Really Like Books

  1. Nice post! I can hear your voice rolling its eyes at people and their books. I guess I really hate books. My disdain for ebooks has been, in part, enhanced by the many people I help at work who have no idea how to operate their tool of choice (Kindle, Nook, whatever), and then blame me saying, “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’ve deleted my books.” WTH. Anyway, to those people I say, pick up a damn book (expletive, expletive…you know how Jersey people speak). Anyway, what history we have left will be wiped out when a huge tidal wave hits us and ebooks wither under its pressure.

  2. I get tired of the ebook versus “traditional” books debate. I see no reason why I should pick one over another, I love them both. For many things ebooks don’t work as well for me — such as when I’m doing research, when a book is particularly inspiriting and I plan to revisit it, when I want to be able to hand the book to a friend and tell them to read it. Typing notes and highlighting on my kindle is time-consuming, and it is more challenging to flip to particular pages when in discussions over the book.
    However, when I am reading fiction, going on a trip (or even my daily commute) the ebooks are great, and I love them. I can carry a small library with me (okay, I can carry a large library with me, but at the moment my ebook collection is about 1/3 the size of my regular collection so it is “small” in comparison), jump easily between different books when I need a break, don’t have to drag huge copies of books with me, Because I use the e-ink Kindle it doesn’t hurt my eyes to read (the back-light setup of my tablet, for instance, is not as pleasant a reading experience for me and I would take a paper-copy of a book over that any day).
    I don’t see one, or the other, vanishing any time soon… When the concept of inexpensive paperbacks came into the picture it isn’t like hardcovers disappeared. So why don’t we all just put aside the debate and recognize this new(er) technology as what it is — another venue for us book-a-holics and avid-readers to gather (okay..hoard?) books. Not better than, not replacement for, just ANOTHER.

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