“Real” vs. eBooks
Posted on June 27, 2011 by Joy Felix
I’ve had a Kindle for about a year. A lot of people I know are still hesitant about entering the whole e-book world. I can understand – I wasn’t sold on the idea until about a year and a half ago. Around December of 2009, I thought I would give it a go and downloaded the Kindle application on my iPhone. It opened a brand new world – there was no going back.
What fueled the change? Well – I live in Japan, but I’m American. I still want to read all the bestsellers and books that I enjoyed while in the States. I’m also a teacher and if I am reading up on a book that I want to use for a lesson, then I want it NOW, I don’t want to wait 10-14 days for it and pay extra for shipping. I can’t just run out to the local Barnes & Noble. There isn’t one for 2390 miles (I think the closest is Honolulu anyway – correct me if I am wrong). I could take a whole library to Mongolia for six weeks last summer, and it didn’t take up any more space than the size of the Kindle. For travel, ebooks are a godsend!
Now the main argument I hear most of the time is “It doesn’t look/smell/feel like a real book.” This is true. It’s lighter, you don’t lose your page and you don’t have to worry about papercuts – but that aside – it begs a different, deeper question.
What is a REAL book. Why does it have to be paper?
I wonder how many tribal scholars back in the day thought that the younger generation was going to pot because rather than memorizing and quoting the folklore there was suddenly these clay tablet things. Then when leather came along, there were probably the elite of the past that felt it wasn’t as durable as clay and snubbed it. Then paper! Oh, how thin and easily torn! (This is Joy’s theoretical retelling of history……not to be taken as historical fact of course…..) You probably still know some old-timers that want hardcover books still rather than that annoying paperback.
The point is, the ebook is just the latest in the history of humanity’s history of preserving content. You eventually forget the platform that it is delivered in and get swept away in what really matters – the story or message that the book was written to convey. If the platform is distracting – we live in an age of many options, choose the one you like best. They are all “real” books though. The content is the same, no matter what format you may choose to read them in.
I think what the eBook industry has done is redefine our expectations of what a book is. For people who travel often though, the e-reader technology could not be more opportune. The days of carrying five heavy textbooks and the weight they took in my suitcase is finally gone. 10.3 ounces in my backpack or carry-on is far more easy to manage. For anyone who travels and travels often, celebrate the advent of the e-reader!