A sure fire way to start an argument in a library, book store, airport lounge, or just when visiting your Nan, is to bring up ‘real’ books as opposed to eBooks. They are both a collection of words strung together in such a way that the reader experiences exactly what the author imagined, and yet there is a massive divide across readers as to which they prefer.
The Traditionalists will argue until they’re blue in the face that you simply cannot beat a book made with paper and ink. The feel, smell, and entire experience are things that cannot ever be replicated and ‘real’ book enthusiasts never settle for anything else. They’re easier to hold, don’t hurt your eyes, and there’s just something about curling up in bed with a paperback.
The eBook enthusiasts counter that the benefits of an electronic book outweigh the cons. The books themselves are cheaper; your device can store thousands of books as opposed to the three-book maximum that most handbags hold; plus you can change the size of the font if you need it bigger or like it smaller. You also don’t have to physically leave the house to access the very latest releases but can download them the second that they’re released.
Working in a physical library, I meet a lot of the Traditionalists and I must admit that when eBooks were first released, I was one of them. I’d grown up with a pile of books next to my bed, a dog eared favourite in my bag, and I spent most of my free time in the local library or prowling the aisles of the book shop in town. Then my husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas, one of the second generation ones that were big and clunky that had to be navigated with buttons on the keyboard (a far cry from the compact touchscreens of today). It wasn’t long afterwards that I had a long overseas flight and that’s when I fell in love with eBooks. It was so convenient to have numerous books at my fingertips since I’m a restless traveller who flits from one thing to the next, unable to concentrate.
I still adore my real books and I’m quite unable to enter a book store without leaving with another tome or two to add to my personal library at home, but when it comes to the argument as to which is better, I just ask, “Why not both?”.