E-books right now are becoming popular. Even here in the Philippines it is fast replacing hard bounds in the mainstream. Almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet computers where they can store their ebooks on. Instead of painstakingly carrying tons of books in the bag, who would not prefer to have them all in a less than one pound gadget. I mean seriously, who wouldn’t? But I would like to reason out that a hard bound book has its advantages. It has a unique appeal that I wish that it will not diminish even with the rise of ebooks.
That does not mean, however, that I don’t have any ebooks or I don’t like it at all. I have around 30 or so books. My favorites, in fact, including ‘A Lucky Child’ by Thomas Buergenthal and ‘Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank (which is in a pdf). But honestly, I haven’t completed reading any of those e-book versions. I couldn’t stand reading ten pages or so in an e-book while in a hard bound I can go for hundreds of pages in one sitting and still excited in reading. That’s my experience, I don’t know about others.
But I think there are more serious reasons which explain my preference for hard bound books over e-books.
First is that E-books rely on artificial lighting…which is a turn off. I mean the tab or smartphone’s LCD lighting can be tiring to the eyes. We can only tolerate so much radiation from our gadgets so our eyes feel tired at some time. Meanwhile, books depend on the lighting within our environment; the sunlight in the morning and the fluorescent in the evening. Although its true that radiation can come from our light bulbs as well, books do not induce additional radiation which is true for an e-book.
Second is that the ‘touch’ or ‘feeling’ of a hard bound creates a sense of more involvement on the part of the reader compared to an ebook where despite having a solid component in a gadget makes it impossible to have a feel of the flipping pages. I mean we human beings are affective creatures. We rely a lot on our senses to enjoy things. The absence of which, I think, decreases the degree of our enjoyment.
Third is I think the smell. Oh, I get crazy with the smell of the paper. It makes me wanna read. I think reading without the smell of the paper makes my reading incomplete; especially because I grew up reading hard bounds. I think it is etched already in my mind that reading has to have a smell of paper. Haha!
Lastly, books can be use even when there’s black out. Haha! I live in the Philippines where black outs can happen more often that what you might experience in the West or in other more prosperous Asian countries. I can read a hard bound book using rechargeable lights or….candles while I might be anxious in reading my e-book especially when I only have so much battery. In this case, who says hard bounds ain’t convenient? Huh.
But in writing this, I don’t have any ill-feeling towards e-books and its readers. In fact, I think that the spread of e-book has an important role to play in spreading literacy and the love for reading. Most especially in the future where the world will be digitalized more than ever. But certainly, the feel of going into a bookstore would be something that I and many people, for sure, will miss. I wonder if bookstores would even exist in the future! The rise of e-book means that much of the transactions will be online. I think it is Britannica Encyclopedia that had already stopped printing hard bound books. And surely more will follow. More and more new books will then be an e-book and hard bounds will be somewhat of a rarity. Will it be good or not? I don’t know….yet.