“Ang, I hear a lot about the Print vs. eBook debate; what are your thoughts?”

First and foremost, allow us to lay out the aspects that both sides can agree on. Despite their preference for disparate book format, each side of this argument can agree that books are important. Whether in Camp Print or Camp eBook, the consensus is that books should be made available and through that enjoyed by the general population.

Now, to get down to the brass tacks. I do not sway towards either print or eBook as being better than the other. Although I prefer to read print books due to the tactile nature of their existence and the fact that they are somewhat easier on my eyes, eBooks fulfill an important role in society. Not everyone is capable or willing to carrying around a printed book while they travel — unlike myself who never leaves the house without a book, a back-up book, a third book I forgot was in my satchel, two mangas, and a sketchbook. Books take up valuable space and for some that is not an option, making eBooks the perfect alternatives for bookworms on the go.

For this reason, I wholeheartedly disagree that eBooks are not ‘real’ books. What is a ‘real’ book but a collection of words lovingly arranged by an author in a such a way as to stimulate the imagination. A book can do that whether it’s printed, in eBook form, posted online, or printed out on 9×11 printer paper. I would never, ever dismiss an eBook as not being a ‘real’ book or as being any less than a print book.

The point of the book is to convey information — since I write novels, I will focus on fiction books, but this can apply to non-fiction as well — to a reader. The richness of the story, the words the author uses, the realness of the characters has the capacity to flourish through any medium. Unless the print and eBook versions of a book differ so wildly it isn’t the same book, both publishing mechanisms are entirely acceptable.

Both prints and eBooks have their fair share of technical values as well, which I will present as bullet points because regardless of your Print-vs-eBook debate organization is important:

Print:

  • Tactile response
  • Old or new they smell great
  • Tend to be longer-lasting than their eBook counterparts
  • No batteries or blue light from the screen
  • Very pretty when arranged on a shelf with other companion books

eBook:

  • Tend to be more portable than real books
  • Often utilize built-in lights or screen brightness for ease of reading
  • Can change the font size
  • Near-instantaneous access to millions of books
  • Collects less sand and dirt for better reading in the Great Out-of-Doors

Now, it is important to note that both print books and eBooks suffer from the same Achilles’ heels: water and fire. Drop either a print book or whatever device you happen to be reading an eBook on into a bathtub or bonfire and neither will fare very well. Fire, of course, will destroy both easily with almost no chance of salvaging anything.

When it comes to water, the print book might very well survive intact, but it will be forever marred with the scars of this particular incident, namely a withered, crinkly texture and water stains eking across the pages. To top that all off, its spine will forever creak and groan whenever the book is opened. When it comes to eBooks, unless you happen to be reading your eBook on a fancy, waterproof device, it is unlikely that the device will survive unless immediately placed in a bag of your favorite rice and even then the survival rate is questionable.

(Author’s note: never use Arborio rice; that is for risotto and risotto only. If that is the only rice you happen to have in the cabinet, you will just have to adjust to life without whatever device has just figuratively bled out.)

To make a long story short, both print and eBooks have their roles to fill in modern society. Neither is in general better than the other and both have shining qualities to make them desirable for every type of bookworm. A book is no less of a book simply because it’s pages are virtual.

 

– Ang

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