Yesterday I got in a discussion with friends about books vs. e-books, and whether or not this is finally the end of books (since I’ve heard this argument for at least the past 10 years or so). It started off with a discussion about publishing and self-publishing, and I got that there was this perception that self-publishing meant e-books, which is how the discussion veered off in that direction.
Now maybe I’m just old-fashioned, and now a lot of old-fashioned people, but I love books. I couldn’t dream of replacing my books with e-books, or buying books in the future as electronic copies. There’s just something about having the actual physical product in your hand, whether it’s knowing you’re near the end and savoring those last few pages seeing the end coming closer and closer, or the hard cover in your hands on a cool evening, curled up in a chair. Or just finishing a really, really, incredibly good book and closing it…that satisfaction.
That being said, I have thought of a Kindle or something similar. I’ve been buying a lot of books, some more for research that I wouldn’t necessarily care to read again or keep. An e-reader would be great for that. But could I read something like Washington’s biography on a screen? No. That’s quality in book form right there.
Here’s what I think. I don’t think it has to be an either-or. I think there will be plenty of people who want to continue reading physical books. And those people I think will pass on that love to the next generation. And I think ebooks have their place (books you may not want to pay to keep, the metro, a weekend trip or a long plane ride where you might want choices (like the 18 hour flight to Singapore!) or a car trip).
I know that time may prove me wrong. But I’m hopeful books will stick around for quite some time. Call me a romantic, but a library in a room with shelves and shelves full of books that reflect a lifetime of careful readership and building would not have the same effect as scrolling through digital copies on one’s computer.
What’s your take on the debate?