Home Books Knockout: eBooks vs Books
Knockout: eBooks vs Books

Knockout: eBooks vs Books


Brandon and Abel pull no punches when it comes to their reading! Both passionate about their pages, they’ve a shared passion for the literary world! Unfortunately they tend to differ about how one should treat and experience their books! It’s the classic versus the modern as the pair pit books against eBooks.

For eBooks

When it comes to ebooks I think a lot about that Stephen Fry quote, ‘Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators’ because it’s quite accurate. People only quote this part and they tend to miss the first part, which says “That’s the point. One technology doesn’t replace another, it complements” and it’s more relevant to the discussion.

At first I said I’d never touch an ebook reader, that they were pointless and proper books were the way to go. But that has changed over the years, I turned to the dark side not because of cookies, but for books. And I have many reasons why this happened, although the imperative one was space.

When I came back to Ireland, I had four books in my luggage. And as usual I started to acumulate more and more books to the point that I have to put them in random places in my room. True that I could probably buy and build a bookcase but I don’t trust myself to do that. I knew that at some point it’d get to a breaking point so I tried to do small solutions like having some books shipped to Spain, but those were minor solutions

One Christmas, my dad asked me if I wanted a tablet. I thought for a second and told him that rather than a tablet, I’d probably get more use out of an ereader like a Kindle so I got that. And in the end I warmed up to it. I haven’t sworn physical books off though, I still read them but I tend to be choosier when buying them.

All in all, eBooks have made me a better reader. I used to read a lot already but ever since I made the leap the number of books I read per year has increased dramatically. For the sake of comparison, in 2013 (last year I read exclusively physical books) the total number of books I read was 61, and last year I read 101 books. Sure, I read a lot because of Goodreads’ reading challenge but ebooks have made me a better reader.

They also tend to be more cost-effective. When I was considering reading The Wheel of Time I went to a bookstore and grabbed the first book to see how much it cost. It wasn’t that expensive (for a paperback book) but the whole sum of the series being 14 books and all of them having similar prices made me put a stop to the idea. In ebook format the most I’ve paid for a Wheel of Time book was 5 euros and I don’t have to worry about finding a place in my room for 14 doorstoppers.

There’s also the matter of the space they occupy, which is vital. I’ve been around carrying my backpack just because I was reading a particularly big book and with a ebooks I don’t really have to do that anymore. I’ve also picked up the bad habit of reading while I’m going for a walk, which might not sound like the most sensible idea but I still haven’t tripped or caused an accident.

There are also have more advantages. As a non-native speaker checking words I don’t know is important, and it’s as simple as tapping the word so that it underlines and wait for the dictionary definition to pop-up. The backlight is also helpful and doesn’t hurt the eyes so I can read perfectly well in the dark and being able to choose your own font and size is quite helpful too. I seem to remember there’s even a font to make reading easier for people with dyslexia.

While I understand some of the complaints about ebooks, I don’t necessarily agree with them. I don’t see people arguing like this about audiobooks (though I’m sure that’s happened). I love books and I still get a kick out of wandering second-hand bookstores to see if I find cool stuff, but I can complement that with reading a book on my Kindle. In the end it’s one of those “To each his own” matters but both ebooks and books have their pros and cons and I can enjoy both of them equally. After all, the important thing is what’s within.

For Books

I read physical books exclusively. In a world of dirt cheap e-books and portable kindles, this statement usually warrants slight jeering and attempts to convert me to the glorious revolution of the 21st century. And yes, if I had any sense, I’d likely abandon my horse-hitched wagon and jump aboard that great steam locomotive – however – they provide a warming comfort to my journey that the great steel mechanism cannot.

There’s a warmth and familiarity in that I can find in a dog-eared paperback that isn’t present in the sleek e-reader. It’s a difficult set of feelings to attribute with concrete facts, but instead an innate sentiment, like the difference between a smouldering hearth and a radiator. It’s the heft and the weight of the volume. It’s the fluttering ripple of the pages beneath your fingers. It’s running your fingers down the wrinkled spine of your favourite novel. It’s when you close a book for the final time, sit back and sigh. You roll it around in your hands, reread the blurb on the back, soak in the cover art and maybe try to return to your favourite segment. This intimacy is lost with e-books. Every tome weighs the same, there are no pages to turn or mark, no embossed covers to trace. There’s a monotone uniformity to e-books that lack the individuality of a book. When you’ve been on an adventure with your favourite story it shows on the cover that it’s been well tread. With e-books they’re zipped back into a file never to be appreciated again.

There’s also value in a tome after it’s been read. You can buy a bookshelf and line it with your conquests, trophies and souvenirs from your tours of duty and exotic travels. The also facilitate several kinds of business. Small local bookshops which deal in the resale of used books or antique stores with dusty leather-bound first edition copies of 18th century stories.

In a final note if you truly wish to support authors you would be better served buying hardcovers. According to the Author’s Guild, e-book sales are significantly weighed towards the publisher’s interest as opposed to the writers. Due to the significant lower price of e-books, it reduces the author’s royalty, while increasing margins for the publisher. This also reduces the odds of the author earning-out their advance which means if a book sells predominantly in an electronic fashion, they may never have to begin shelling out royalties for the artist.

Not that I’m disparaging those who purchase e-books. I do consider that the extra meat I spend on books helps the author, but it isn’t the main reason I read hardcovers. It’s just because I like them. This is a debate that’s been going on since the advent of electronic publishing. It won’t be solved by two guys on the internet disagreeing over it, and it doesn’t have to be. Books and kindles can co-exist in harmony in our literary Garden of Eden. Just remember that the book is the lion. Because lions are cool.


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