Last year, Amazon e-book sales exceeded the sales of printed books. While there is something very scary about this- the “printed word” will no longer be in print- there’s nothing to really worry about. Printed books are here to stay. (And while I am partial to real books, there are genuine reasons why e-books are - and always will be - inferior.)
E-books seem to have all the advantages- durability, ease of access, finesse. Yet they cannot truly replace real books because, well, they just aren’t the real thing. Printed books have been in use for hundreds of years, and all readers have developed a sort of emotional attachment to the nice, solid feel of a well-bound book. And there are myriad other reasons why printed books are superior to e-books. To all potential e-book users out there, here are five reasons why printed books are superior to your fancy schmancy electronic readers.
- Your paperbacks don’t have limited battery life. Read them anywhere, anytime! Anywhere there is light, that is. Or ruin your eyes and read by flashlight! Though your flashlight does have limited battery life. That’s why they invented candles!
- Printed books don’t crash. Not that e-books actually crash that often. But why not ensure a crash-free reading experience?
- Paperbacks are sometimes cheaper than their e-book counterparts! The key word here is sometimes.
- You can drop your printed books into puddles or read them whilst eating without feeling too bad about destroying them. Most of the time, they’re still readable, anyway. And after books have been soaked, they develop this strange, musty smell that only enhances your reading experience!
- Your emotional attachment to a printed book is exponentially more than your attachment to a hunk of whatever they make e-books out of (plastic? metal? pig bladder?) A printed book looks, feels, and smells legit. You can feel the weight of the pages and the words. You can smell the pages and the words. And honestly, there is not a single book whose e-book looks better than the printed version. Turning real pages is infinitely more satisfying than turning virtual pages. Seeing the mound of pages that have already been read and digested makes you feel… happy.
- (Bonus) Think about libraries and librarians. Libraries are beautiful things and librarians are (generally) beautiful people. And anyway, without libraries, where would we get our emergency volunteer hours? Relax, I’m kidding.
The subjective and emotional aspect of the e-book/real-book debate shows that the two formats are incomparable. A person who has read and enjoyed printed books their entire life cannot imagine reading a novel on an e-reader. On the other hand, young people who have become accustomed to the new technology find e-books convenient and satisfying. Obviously, I side with the “old-fashioned” readers of printed books. E-readers may transform reading for many Americans (especially the younger generation), but printed books will never lose their appeal.