The (modern) age old question: e-book or physical book?
There really isn’t a conclusive answer online, either. Some sites say people still swear by the hard copy while others think the digital version has already taken over. But why is this even an issue?
Personally, I prefer e-books. I have my library on my phone and my tablet through the Kindle app and Google Play Books, and I have a Kindle Paperwhite as well. Everywhere I go, I have access to thousands of my books. What’s not to like?
Sure, the battery drains. A small hazard should one become stranded in a deserted, uncivilized island. But what are the chances, really? It’s been at least 15 years since cellphones invaded our lives. By now you’d know to charge your shit ahead of time and/or have a spare battery.
I get the euphoria of opening an actual book and hearing the spine crack, the scent of printed paper engulfing your senses. Holding a physical book awakens the senses. I get that. I appreciate that. I love looking at my bookshelf bustling with multi-colored spines. Thrift stores’ book aisles aren’t safe from me.
But when I’m flying across the world–an endeavor that takes at least 15 hours, not including layovers and unexpected delays–one paperback won’t appease me. It works for a regular reader but I’m not a regular slow reader. I speed read. I devour at least one book per day, more if the day is slow. And you know what slows down a day? Long travels. Waiting rooms in doctors’ offices, which I’m sure has a special slow motion timezone of its own. Lunch breaks when you have no lunch. Gatherings I don’t want to go to, but have to because my boyfriend has to be there or family wants me there. I can’t stuff my carry-on with paperbacks; let’s be real.
When I flew from the Philippines to California, I literally carried around a hardbound copy of Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer under my arm. (This was back when Twilight wasn’t so reviled yet. Leave me alone!) The thing wouldn’t fit in my luggage or my backpack. It was so inconvenient. I jumped around four airports with a sweater and a book in my arms. A Kindle would’ve fit in my jacket pocket.
It’s always about space with physical books, though. They’re either too bulky or too numerous. I have lived in apartments for five years–a new one every year. Some places have bookshelves, others don’t. Space is an issue. While I would love a library that can compete with the one at the Beast’s castle, I can’t afford the space. And so the books that you’ll find in my shelves are tried and true. Ones that have survived the test of time and proven themselves top-notch. To earn a space in my shelves is a badge of honor for books. My Kindle can hold thousands of books, which isn’t as special as the shelves in my apartment, but it’s still great.
You know what else is great? Getting books whenever I want. I finished Act of God by Jill Ciment in under three hours. I borrowed the book from the Overdrive app through my public library. I loved the novel so much that I was spurred to read more of Ciment’s work, particularly Heroic Measures. It was already 9 pm. Barnes and Noble is closed now, and Amazon won’t get me the physical book in time. I like instant gratification. So I bought the Kindle version right then and there. Convenient.
While I lean more towards e-books, not one version is truly better than the other. I have a system that goes: read ebook first and if the book is 5-star, buy the physical copy for the bookshelf. That’s how I’ve operated in the past two years.
Bottom line: as long as you’re reading, you’re golden. Format doesn’t matter.