First, ‘video killed the radio star’, then DVD killed the ‘video star’ and now MP3s are beginning to ‘kill’ CDs… which brings us to the question; will E-books eventually ‘kill off’ our beloved printed books? And if so, should they?
From the Nook to the Pocketbook and the Kobo to the Kindle, E-books are everywhere – but is this good thing? And what can it mean for the future of printed books?
As a self-proclaimed ‘bookaholic’ I love nothing more than to sit down with a cup of tea and a good ol’ printed book – the lengthier the better! But, I, like millions of others have recently invested in the latest trend by going out and buying myself an E-reader– a Kindle Paperwhite to be exact. Yet, I simply cannot contemplate it replacing my (very large) accumulation of hard and paper back books – there is just something irreplaceable about picking up a book and feeling the weight of it in your hands as you eagerly turn page after page to find out what happens after that absolute cliff-hanger of a chapter finale. And call me crazy, but isn’t there just something about the smell of a brand new book? It’s a fact – reading involves multiple senses, the feel of the pages and the binding, the sight of not only the words on the page – but the cover art too… all of which are aspects that you simply cannot get, whilst reading an E-book, to that same degree.
That said – I love my Kindle too – I can’t deny it. Having a E-reader is super convenient – there is no longer a need to ‘umm and ahh’ about which book to take on holiday (because come on now you can’t fit your whole bookshelf in your suitcase!) because well, now you can – and I have to admit, being able to take my whole digital library with me everywhere I go, is fantastic – with access to book after book, I’ll never be bored on those long car journeys again! What’s more, the E-reader gives us access to thousands of books right at our finger tips, gone are the days of traipsing around bookstore after bookstore to find that one book-that-you-need-so-much-like-right-NOW, as with the Kindle you can simply search for it without even leaving your room, and within 2 clicks it can be yours – all downloaded and ready to read, perfect, sorted. This vast and ever expanding online bookstore has other advantages too – the possibilities of discovering new writers or novels whilst using it couldn’t be broader.
Since buying my Kindle, I can think of at least ten writers that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise – because that’s the thing every published E-book is available to you instantly, which is a godsend, especially if you live somewhere that lacks a sufficient amount of bookstores – with an E-reader its hard not to find something new and exciting to read! Another great feature of my E-reader that I absolutely love is the sampling and reviewing system, I no longer, being the indecisive person that I am, have to ‘umm and ahh’ about whether or not I should/should not buy ‘this book’ – hundreds of reviews are there to help me decide and if I’m still not convinced I can download a sample of the said book, as what’s a better decider than actually dipping in and having a read? What’s more, after reading each book there is an opportunity to ‘rate & review’ it, so you can go ahead and ‘rave’ about how much you loved it to your hearts content. There are also the obvious advantages of owning an E-reader – it cuts costs whilst stopping the cutting of trees! That’s right, going digital can save you buckets of money (the amount of free and discounted books available is seemingly endless) whilst helping to save the environment at the same time – it’s a ‘win win’ situation.
However, this cannot truly be a ‘debate’ with out addressing the negatives, and both print and E-books have their fair share of weaknesses. Every book lover will know the struggle of trying to cram an already packed bookshelf with one more ‘great book buy’ just as every E-book fan will know the struggle of running out of battery just when you were about to start reading that best-seller. It seems that ones’ advantage is the others’ disadvantage and vise versa; for example, whilst print books can take up too much room, E-readers are capable of compactly holding literally thousands of books and whilst E-readers run out of charge and lack the ‘reading sensation’ that most book lovers crave, a print book will never ‘run out of charge’ and definitely does give that all important reading sensation…
Overall, It’s a hard question to answer – I personally don’t think E-books should replace printed books, just as I don’t think E-books should vanish simply because of the original charm and appeal of the printed book. Maybe the answer is a happy medium – I couldn’t live without my E-reader for convenience sake, but I’ll always love owning printed books – to quote Jane Austen “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!…When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library”, and a library of course can only be ‘excellent’ when filled with physical printed books – of all colours, sizes and ages!