Okay, so last week I started this whole pros and cons thing by addressing the appeal and dislike (if there really is such a thing) of owning and using paper books. As promised, this week it’s all about the eBook!
I will start by pointing out this is not a review of eReaders or eBook aps. No. I have my preferred ones; you may have yours, wonderful. We can now enjoy our eBooks using the method that suits us best. This is more as to why the actual story, in the form of an eBook, has their good and bad points.
And so here we go…
The Pros of eBooks…
My first and foremost has to be that I can keep on getting eBooks long after my physical bookshelves have become overfull and I simply can’t fit another book, let alone another bookshelf, into my home. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain series I have been collecting in paper form for years and so will complete their set in paper. However, there are simply dozens of authors and series of books I’ve baulk at owning as I just don’t have the space. Yes I enjoyed the books and the author’s work, but not enough for me to have given up precious bookshelf space for. Now, with the wonderful world of eBooks, I have clouds of shelves instead and so the collecting can once more commence. Yes!!!
To go with this, eBooks are far more portable. No, hear me out! Yes I know that there are loads of paper books just as portable in the plain sense of the word. However, I am talking about the portability of multiple books. When I have to go to those dreaded job interviews of spend hours in waiting rooms for other appointments, I’d often forget the book I was reading and my brain would slowly turn to sludge reading whatever hideous fashion magazines had been left out… just to pacify you into submission out of sheer boredom I swear! However, since the mid 1990’s I’ve always had a mobile phone with me. And these days, it’s also a link to my lovely cloud of books. Never a dull magazine again!
Then there is going on holiday with limited space to put all the books you may or may not want to read while away. These days, not a problem – I have my phone and I have my eReader. So what if I can’t have them switched on during take-off and landing? If you want to be reading a paper book during those times, go for it. But as I am usually too busy fussing over hordes (my children) claiming we’re about to die, or just enjoying the concept of science at work (yah, I’m a nerd remember?) I don’t generally have the time to read. However, when stuck with no wi-fi, no TV and kids asleep early after a hard days holidaying… Why hello cloud library, long time no see! 🙂
Although this next one will also appear in the cons section – affordability! Oh I agree that there is an overabundance of ‘cheap and nasty’ (poorly written and/or edited) eBooks out there as every man, woman, dog and cat can self-publish these days. But some of my favourite authors, who have written hundreds of good books (some are now even TV series and radio shows) are available as eBooks. And these were people I felt I could never own simply as I didn’t have the space or budget for their books. Now I can buy them for under $10 (sometimes under $5) and I am happy. Finally I can own and read them whenever I want, rather than have to hunt through the inter-library loan system and just pray the copy I finally end up with isn’t too dog-eared and mucky.
Ebooks are also so very flexible to read. No, I know you can’t bend them and creased them and what not like some evil people do to books. But that’s called damaging them and we just won’t go there. What I love about my eBook world is that at night, when the usual insomnia kicks in, I can curl up under the blankets and, without needing to turn any lights on, can ‘open’ up my eBook and read away in the darkness until the evil thoughts that awoke me are thumped into submission by my imagination and a well written story. Others I share my bed with are also thankful of this as it means I don’t have the bloody light on all night keeping them from sleep. Insomnia, shouldn’t be shared so just kill it with an eBook. 😉
Now, I am admittedly new to eBooks and so may be proven wrong on this one. But I also like how you can’t really lend them to a friend. And there goes that argument of it being returned vs the same copy of the book now being in your friend’s possession. Me, bitter? Nah!
So onto the other side…
The Cons of eBooks…
Now I don’t know if this one should really be included, as it’s more about the eReader than the eBooks but here it is anyway: They’re not as durable as a paper book. Basically, you spill your coffee on it, it’s gone. Your library should still be up there in that magical cloud… but it’s not as if you can prop it by the fire or use the hairdryer on it until it’s back to normal and keep reading a slightly stained version. Nor can you lay in a hot bath and enjoy an eBook. Well, I’ve not even dared to try that one so am just guessing it sounds like a good afternoon ruined.
The impact of owning hundreds of eBooks just isn’t the same as having a house lined with shelves of paper books either. I mean, people inwardly groan and suffer in silence when you show them pictures of your kids or your last weekend on your phone… do you really think they want to sit there and ooh and ahh over you thumbing your way through pictures of books out there somewhere in that cloud? It’s just not the same. The wow factor is gone. Plus, it is rather suspicious when your eBook device smells of cinnamon and cloves. Just saying.
Another is the tactile nature of the eBook. Don’t get me wrong, I have a cover for my eReader that is soft and so nice and really is pleasing to touch and hold and enjoy a good book on. But it really isn’t the same as the paper version. You know it, I know it… there is a tactile beauty in even the oldest, rattiest book that is lost when it becomes just words behind a glass screen… no matter how pretty that case and cover is.
Quantity over quality rears its ugly head here too. As mentioned, every man, woman, cat and dog can self-publish these days. And, well, quite frankly – not all of them should. Yes there are some great self-published eBooks but by god there is some crud too. If it’s really cheap or free… that should be telling you something. Yes it may be a promotion to a really fantastic new author or series. Or, more commonly, it’ll be something that has either been badly written, badly edited and well, is just bad. Wading through all of this to discover a new author can be daunting and far less enjoyable than wandering through a paper book store. I mean, who doesn’t love to waste a rainy afternoon in a really good, old second hand book shop?
Remember I mentioned cost? Yes, this one is a killer for me. I tend to read one to two books a week and have recently been doing it by buying the eBook version as I’ve been unable to make it to my local library due to injury. It’s quick, it’s easy and quite often you won’t realise exactly how much you’ve just spent on these books hidden in the clouds until you monthly bill turns up. Can I get an Eeep?
If I was to buy the same amount of books in their physical form (even if done via a simple point and click online bookshop) I will know there and then that the budget has been blown. Plus the wait for them to arrive tends to deter me from being so frivolous. But with an eBook… find it, click to buy it, read it…. Receive the bill, clutch your chest, consider what groceries you can forego for the month ahead and do your damnedest not to do it again. Buying eBooks can become very addictive.
Again, I’ve surely missed some of the pros and cons on being an eBook owner… but here are my basics. If asked to choose between paper and eBooks… I don’t know if I could give a straight black or white answer. But I’ve always been a bit of a grey person myself as it is. I love them both; own them both and one day hope to be published in both. Thankfully I don’t have to choose… I just have to watch my budget as the latest in one of my favourite paper book series is out soon and I must find the money and space for it!
How about you? Paper or plastic? 😉
Until next time,
August 25, 2013 at 9:11 pm
Hi Janis, if you’re serious about wanting to read in the bath you might want to consider a waterproof pouch for the kindle from ebay. My wife has one and it has proved entirely suitable and safe.
August 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm
Sadly I would need a bigger bath too. 🙂