Writer Jonathan Franzen made headlines awhile back when he dissed eBooks, saying they don’t have the same degree of permanence as plain ol’ books. When books are in electronic format, he said, it “always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around...” Um, okay ... we guess that’s possible, although very unlikely, and nowhere near a good enough reason to shun eBooks altogether. Just ask Stephen King, a voracious reader of eBooks and bound books, alike:
“The book is the delivery system. The important part is the story,” King said in an interview with CNN in 2010. King garnered loads of attention over ten years ago when he published Riding the Bullet, an online-only novella, back when eBooks weren’t anywhere near as popular as they are today. King’s latest novel Joyland (scheduled for release in 2013) is the first of his novels in a long time that won’t be available in eBook format. King cited his love of paperbacks as a kid, and how the tone and feel of Joyland is akin to that of the paperbacks that inspired him growing up.
We like King’s idea about ascribing his choice of literary device based on what feels right to him. Since it’s book week, we got to thinking: should the debate about books /vs./ eBooks be a debate at all? Aren’t both formats equally distinct and fantastic? This reminds us of the way people have made rivals out of Lady Gaga and Madonna. One has been around forever and one is newer, but why hate on one and constantly pit them against each other when they’re both talented and badass, each with something unique to offer?
When it comes to books, we say: it’s not about either/or it’s about: yes, please! So, in celebration of the written word, here are some amazing qualities of both formats:
THE INTERACTIVE FACTOR:
EBooks are interactive, with audio and visual activities that expand and/or enhance your learning experience. EBooks are great for all ages. Kiddos get 3D graphics that make most pop-up books look boring, while teens and adults can get eBooks on everything from cooking to the history of rock music, complete with playlists and apps.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL FACTOR:
Environmentalists have argued that by using eBooks, we can save tons of the trees cut down merely for our reading pleasure. This is a convincing argument, and a good reason to incorporate some eBooks into your diet.
THE TRANSPORT FACTOR:
Let’s say you want to read A Dance with Dragons when you go camping, or when you’re on vacation, but you don’t want to take the hulking volume because it will fill half of your suitcase—this is where eBooks are handy. You can take the entire Song of Ice and Fire series and it will weigh less than one of the series’ books. Plus, a stocked library makes moving beyond cumbersome!
THE $$$ FACTOR:
EBooks are cheaper, and most popular titles are available for download immediately, with no shipping costs. Plus, you can get classics by Dickens, Twain, and Shakespeare (to name a few) for a few bucks on your Nook. Saving money is always good.
THE SENSORY FACTOR:
The beloved, late Ray Bradbury summed it up best: “A computer does not smell ... if a book is new, it smells great. If a book is old, it smells even better.” The same can be said for bookstores. There’s nothing like the feel of running your hands over the crisp pages of a new book, or the worn familiarity of an old one. Bound books are tangible, and are a sensory experience all their own.
THE DURABILITY FACTOR:
A stocked library can’t just crash, and if you drop a book in a puddle, or worse, the toilet, you can dry it off and still read it.
THE ‘PERSONAL TOUCH’ FACTOR:
Books have their own lives and histories. You make your mark on each book you own—literally—with margin notes, dog-ears, the soda stain you gave it when you read it a second time. You can highlight and put notes on eBooks, but it isn’t the same. Books can also be passed from person to person, and many are family heirlooms with stories of their own.
THE RARENESS FACTOR:
Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers knows and understands this well: books can be rare nuggets of history and fabulousness. There’s only one first edition of Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye (which Flea actually owns), and there are many books not currently available for download. Rare and special editions are just that: rare and special.
How do you feel about the books vs. eBooks?