I’ve actually been wanting to write about this topic since few days ago but I’ve only had time now to put it into words. Anyway, what brought this on was that I saw some people on my twitter timeline talking about how much they prefer physical books over e-books. Normally I would not care about it because after all, it is a personal preference and I don’t care if you love the former over the latter. However, this time, this said person was talking down to people who are using e-books to read, as if saying “you’re just reading e-books, that’s not real books!”
Well, needless to say, I am pissed because I have been such an advocate of e-book reading for a long time. Of course, I love physical books too but seriously what is so wrong with reading e-books? Sure, you cannot feel the pages and emotions, cannot use actual bookmarks, cannot smell the book scent but is that all that is to reading?
What is it about reading e-books that make people say we’re not reading real books? I’m reading the same words that you are reading from the physical copies, so what is the difference? I don’t feel like there is any difference in how we perceive things just because we read from e-books. We feel the same kind of feelings you felt when the characters felt happy, sad, depressed, elated and of course a myriad of other feelings too. Just because we’re clicking on the next button instead of flipping the pages doesn’t make us feel any lesser. I remembered reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes on a flight back to Malaysia from Singapore and crying when I reached the end of the book. Thankfully, there was no one else sitting beside me!
I’m one of those people who collects bookmarks. Sometimes I use them, sometimes I don’t. I collected them because they are just so pretty to look at and it makes me happy to see my collection. But it doesn’t bother me when I don’t get to use my bookmarks when I read e-books because I love the fact that e-readers automatically ‘bookmarked’ your last read page. I’m sure there has been times when you read your book when you’re about to go to bed and suddenly you fell asleep. Then when you wake up the next morning, it’s like “where did I last stop last night???” With e-readers, I usually do not have that problem because you can just click on the book to see where you last stopped but with physical books, it will always take me quite some time to find the page I last read.
There are many other reasons why I love e-books, but mostly because they are not expensive and very easy to travel with so it makes me mad that there are people looking down on people reading e-books. Yes, I do get that reading physical books vs e-books is a matter of personal preference and I am not going to say “you should be reading e-books instead of physical books to save the trees!”, because that is just ridiculous. I am also of course not against physical books because I love physical books myself! I just wished that people would just let us make our own choices because after all, reading is reading whether you do it via a physical book or e-books.
Having said that, of course there are some books that it is better to be read in physical format. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff comes to mind, cos I have tried reading that in ebook format but it just doesn’t work because of the way the book is formatted. Maybe I’ll read that in physical form, someday.
“Until recently, I was an ebook sceptic, see; one of those people who harrumphs about the “physical pleasure of turning actual pages” and how ebook will “never replace the real thing”. Then I was given a Kindle as a present. That shut me up. Stock complaints about the inherent pleasure of ye olde format are bandied about whenever some new upstart invention comes along. Each moan is nothing more than a little foetus of nostalgia jerking in your gut. First they said CDs were no match for vinyl. Then they said MP3s were no match for CDs. Now they say streaming music services are no match for MP3s. They’re only happy looking in the rear-view mirror.” – Charlie Booker
Linking up at: Books and a Beat