Friday, September 21, 2012

Real Books vs e-Books

I love reading. More than just about anything else. When given the choice between going to a party and finishing the last 1/4 of a novel, the book will win, hands down.
I love books and usually can't part with them after I read them. Which is why I don't have a library card, but do have a discount card at the book store. I cannot wait to move to a bigger place where I can dedicate a whole room to my books. You can bet that room will be called "the library" (said with a posh British accent of course).

However, e-books have been gaining a lot of popularity and many people have recommended that I switch over and start reading those. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly convinced. I've never really liked reading on my computer - in school, I would always print up journal articles in order to read them. But, when I got my android tablet last year, I downloaded the Amazon Kindle app. I hardly used it until recently. Having read half a dozen full e-books now, I thought it would be fun to compare them to real books. So here are my pros and cons for each:
(specifically using the Amazon Kindle app for Android)

  • they're cheaper than real books - many classics are free, as are many books by new authors
  • you can easily page through all the titles in your library
  • you can "archive" books you've already read (this way, they're no longer taking up space on my tablet, but I can easily go back and get them if I want - and they're still visible in the "all items" folder)
  • you can change the font size, brightness/background colour (to sepia or black with white text) and add a bookmark 
  • your place is automatically saved 
  • you can search through the book (which is very handy if you're looking for something specific)
  • even with the brightness reduced, I still find it hurts my eyes after too long
  • once the battery dies, I'm tethered to the plug
  • the tablet doesn't feel as nice as a book in my hand - there isn't that new book smell (or, even better, that used book smell), the satisfying crack of the spine, or the feel of the paper under your fingers
Real Books

  • they don't hurt my eyes, even if the lighting is low  
  • they feel amazing in my hands: the paper, the smell - you just can't beat curling up on the couch or in bed with a good book!
  • they're gorgeous, especially hard covers
  • I love them as decor - I want a library in my home not just for convenience but also for the look
  • the paperbacks (both mass market and trade sizes) are more portable than my tablet - for example, I would never bring my tablet to the dentist waiting room, but I have definitely brought books with me
  • the recall that forms when I read from a real book - I can flip back and forth to different parts of the book because I remember where certain things happen based on where I am in the book (for example, if I want to reread a key scene, I can easily find it based on my memory of approximately where I was in the book when I first read it) - this also helps when I lose my spot! 
  • the social aspect of lending books to friends and family 
  • they're more expensive, especially hardcovers
  • the hardcovers are heavy and not very portable
  • you can't read them in the dark
  • you can lose your spot if you don't dog-ear pages (which I don't)
  • you can "ruin" them - with water, ripping, spills, pens/crayons (this can also be a huge pro for artists who like to alter books though!)
The Verdict

Looks like, for me, both versions are fairly equivalent! I think both real and electronic books have their place: for old classics and brand-new authors, I'll probably opt for the e-books to save money and "try them out". If I like the author or book enough, then I'll buy the real book. For all my favourite authors, and especially for ongoing series I own, I'll continue to purchase the real novels to add to my bookshelves. And when I'm in the book store, if I happen to see a particularly beautiful book, I'll buy it regardless of whether I know the author or could get the e-book for much less.

Speaking of favourite authors, Ken Follett's new book (above) Winter of the World, the second of the Century Trilogy (I recommended the first here), arrived at my doorstep today! [Can I just say - Amazon is awesome! The book was released in Canada today, but 2 days ago in the US, so I ordered this book Wednesday afternoon. It qualified for free shipping, so I went with that instead of paying extra for express (2-3 business days) or priority (next day delivery). It shipped yesterday and arrived today. Why would I ever pay extra for shipping???] Guess what I'll be doing today?

Your turn: are you a real book reader or are e-books your preference?  


Kate said...

Number one con for an e-reader? You can't read in the tub! Nothing beats a nice bubble bath, mood lighting, a glass of cider and a good book!

Sandy said...

I read on an Ipad and the real books too. The really good books I want to keep I buy and save. I have 3 large bookshelves jammed full of books, some I still have yet to read.

I like your pros and cons. I have some of the same. For the brightness at least for the Ipad I turn it all the way down then on the ibook app I can turn it down even more. I charge it while I sleep. Works out pretty well.

Love the set up on your bookshelves.

Amanda said...

Kat - I didn't think of the tub! Probably because I'm not a huge fan of baths (ours just isn't comfortable enough for me to read more than a paragraph in there). You could probably get away with reading an e-reader... you'd just ruin much more than a few pages if it dropped in!

Sandy - Thanks! I charge my tablet when it gets to around 5%... so sometimes that's at night, sometimes not (I find the battery lasts around 1.5 days). I didn't think of turning the brightness down on my tablet *and* the Kindle app... I'll have to give it a whirl next time!