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On Ebooks: Nice, but nothing really new

I remember and dreaded the day that ebooks would get rid of books. Surely this was the end of actual reading! Sone then, I have found my fears unfounded.

I was right, and I was wrong. Ebooks are a part of the book market, holding about a third of books sold now. I can understand this. It’s so much easier, and sometimes cheaper, to have an ebook instead of a physical book. When going on vacation, there is only so much room for books allowed, and carrying 25+ can be tiring. Ebooks, you can have thousands of books. I don’t want to wait to get a book physically when I can buy it and start reading it instantly. If I don’t like it, I can usually return it for a refund just as easily.

On the other hand, there’s just something about a physical book in hand, the smell, weight, and feel of it. They get worn and damaged after countless rereadings. You can tell when a book has been loved and read, as opposed to one that had been forgotten on a shelf. Ebooks don’t give you that, not in the same way. You can bookmark a page, and highlight text, sure, but you have to get to the page for it to matter. You can’t write notes in the margins, circle a word and put highlighter everywhere, bleeding through the page. Physical books are permanent in ways that ebooks can never be.

There is less memory and worse attention spans involved with reading anything on an ebook, or any form of electronics, really. Physical books force kids to pay more and better attention to what is being read because they are not getting as much stimulation from a paper page of text from a screen of text. Read online for fun and the experience, read physical books for memory and recall.
Ebooks depend on electricity, and the internet, and money. I mean, sure, you can get them free at the library, same as physical books, but there are different sets and levels of costs to ebooks than physical books. Books don’t need so much money, and they are always available.

No matter what, people need to read to learn and grow. It is how they get that material that is changing, with the internet and ebooks and everything, paper is becoming something that is less needed and therefore more of a preference. There will always be those who prefer paper, while others hold to electronics as the future of the written word, what is most likely to happen will be a mixture of both, using both mediums to reach the widest range of people with less of a cost than what the same spread of information would have costed earlier.

One reply on “On Ebooks: Nice, but nothing really new”

At least for me, beyond the role of ebooks as being lighter and more portable, at least in some formats they have significant advantages in terms of research. First is that they can be searchable. When I know I need a quote, or an idea for the paper that I did not put on an outline, I can go in, punch in a useful keyword, and usually get right to the key piece, and pull whatever is important. Second, a lot of ebooks are set up to do copy and paste, or can be worked around to make copy and paste work so I can grab an important quote and slot it into my paper, and not worry about including a transcription error.

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