The other day, I wrote an article extolling the virtues of e-readers. As cool as devices like the Nook and Kindle are, however, I don’t think books — the physical objects made of sheets of paper bound together with a bit of glue and sometimes string and cloth and cardboard — are going anywhere any time soon, much to the relief of die-hard fans of “holding a book in my hand.” With all of the nifty technological things that e-readers can do, why would non-luddites still want to purchase and own and read from the remains of a bunch of dead trees? I can think of at least three good reasons.
1. Batteries must be recharged, electronics sometimes malfunction, and airplanes have to take off and land
You don’t need to be near an outlet to read a book, and there’s no on/off switch, so it doesn’t matter if the “fasten seatbelts” sign is lit. Also, the format will never change, so you don’t need to worry about whether or not you have the correct software or device — just open the cover and start reading.
2. Many people cannot afford e-readers
Paperbacks are much less expensive, and even with hardbacks there’s not nearly as much of an investment if the book is lost, chewed up by one’s dog, or ripped to shreds by one’s toddler. And even though some people can’t even afford paperbacks, everyone can afford a library card.
3. Some books are just better in non-electronic form
Like the classics you loved as a kid and want to keep on your shelf to re-read and loan to your friends and give to your children when they’re old enough — your e-reader won’t last that long. And, as nifty as children’s books for the newer devices are, with animations and the ability to have the device read the book to you, there’s still nothing like sitting down with a little kid (or in front of a class full of them) and looking together at all of the big pages filled with gorgeous illustrations that make up a favorite picture book.
I love books made of electrons that I look at on my e-reader, and I love books made of dead trees that I hold in my hand and whose pages I lift up and move. I just love books, no matter what the format, and you won’t find me firmly in one camp or the other because both types have their merits and their shortcomings. I don’t think either medium is likely to go anywhere any time soon, so just pick your favorite and READ SOMETHING!