Battle of the Books: eBook, Paperback or Hardback?

This is a subject that I have seen many people debating over. Which book is better, eBook, paperback or hardback? I know many people have different preferences when it comes to this because each one of them has its own appeal. It’s something people will never agree on and it’s just the way it is. I walk around a lot with my iPad and people would ask me why. I would explain that I was reading from it and they never understood what I meant.

‘How are you reading a book from an iPad?’
‘How do you get a book on an iPad?’
‘Is that a real book?’

Those are some of the questions that would follow after I mentioned reading from it and I guess they just could not comprehend that electronic books exist.

In all honesty, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading my books from my devices. I wish I could get a kindle but for now I’ll make do with what I have and the fact they have an app that allows me to pick up my phone or iPad or laptop and keep on reading makes it even better. I’m not saying that they are better than the physical books, not at all, it’s just that the eBooks have been convenient.

The thing is, they each have their own benefits and there are reasons why some prefer one to the other. I personally find that eBooks work best for me. I know, sacrilegious! It’s not easy for me to find all the books I would like to read in the bookstores in Kenya. It means that I have to order them online and quite frankly I don’t even know how to give an address for them to get to me. Like, can you give a P.O. Box? I’m genuinely asking. Has anyone ever used Amazon to ship their goods to Kenya?

Favorite Books

It’s because of this that I find it easier to purchase an eBook. One click and I have it in my kindle app, so simple. But from the simplicity I also get to enjoy other things. The fact that I can read at night without having the lights on is quite a win for me. It makes things so much easier especially if it’s late at night and you don’t want to bother other people with your reading. This is the one thing that I can preach about. This is such an added benefit. I started wearing glasses because of reading books from a back-lit screen and I still haven’t stopped.

The other thing about eBooks is the ability to get back to where you left off. I don’t have to think about bookmarks or being afraid the bookmark would slip out of the page. Nothing like that. Where you leave it off is where you will pick up when you open the app. And quite frankly this saves me a lot especially when I decide to start off another book when I’m in the middle of another. I can easily pick up from where I left off. Which leads me to another benefit.

I love the fact that I can make notes and highlight parts that I love. I can bookmark a page and it all gets saved in all the devices! I think it’s such a brilliant thing. I know you can do the same with a physical book but I feel like I am mutilating the book. I don’t know why but I love them new and fresh. It’s a problem, I know. I don’t like it when the spine looks all worn and so when I am reading a paperback, I normally have to be very careful when handling the book just so that I can maintain its looks.

Another thing I absolutely adore is the fact that I can search with an eBook. Like this is the best feature about them. Okay, that’s a lie. The reading in the dark thing absolutely is my favorite but this comes close. There are times I remember something from a book and I know which book it is but I just want to go back to that specific part. If I remember some of the words I can literally key them in and find what I am looking for. This has come in handy so any times for me. Then the fact that I can adjust the brightness and text size is an added advantage. There are so many things you can do with an eBook that would not be possible if it was an actual paperback.

Did I forget to mention that I can look up words when reading an eBook? How was this not my first point? This is one thing I adore about the eBooks. I just select the word and the inbuilt dictionary gives me a definition. I don’t need to be connected to the internet for this. I can also get the iPad to read out the book to me when my eyes get tired. This is not the same as reading, I know nor is it the same as Audible but there are days your eyes just don’t want to stay open but you want to read something. I discovered the speak feature on such a day and I fell asleep listening to a robot read out to me.

The other day I was discussing something I had read in a nonfiction book and I wanted to remember the exact words so bad but I couldn’t. The book I had was a paperback and I know I had highlighted the part but I just couldn’t find it. If I had the eBook I’m pretty sure the search wouldn’t have been as hard as it was. I abuse this option sometimes I must admit. Like when I want to find out how many times an author wrote a certain word I find irritating. I did that when reading Fifty Shades. Ha-ha!

I can’t speak about the iPad being lighter because that thing is old and heavy but it had over 300 books in there and I can start off another at any time. That’s why I wish I had a kindle because they are lighter and smaller compared to the behemoth I carry around. But when I don’t feel like carrying it with me, I have my phone which I can pick up where I left off from the iPad. The only thing is id have to sacrifice my battery life for it but we are in the age of power-banks!

Another downfall of the eBooks is the fact that you have to keep on charging your device. You can’t carry it with you when you know wherever you are going there will be no power source. Also when it comes to Kenya, its normal to experience blackouts. If you had not charged your device on a day like that, you simply have nothing to keep you company at such a time. I have been in this situation too many times and I never learn my lesson. I need to keep everything charged just in case. A paperback comes in handy at this crucial moment.

There’s the fact that you need to treat the devices like babies and not drop them or drown them in water. Said accidents can cost you a lot. You don’t want to be reading from a cracked screen. This would irritate the living hell out of me. Also, you cannot easily share a book with someone after you are done with an eBook. Like there are books I really want to shove down people’s throats when I am done with them but I can only do that when I have a paperback copy of the book. There are people you have to give them a physical copy for them to follow up on your recommendation.

Nothing beats the feeling of a real book in your hands. Yes, I said real book. The book smell, the feeling of the cover, the excitement of it all is just different. I love my eBooks but I love it also when I get a copy of my favorite books in paperback. I never really used to appreciate them but now I do. There is just something about them that I can’t really explain. Cliché, I know but it’s the truth. I used to look at people who would say how they would never give up the smell of books for an eBook and think they were insane. How can a smell of a book make you not want to pick up an e-reader? But I get it now. I can’t explain it, but I get it.

What I do now is compromise. I still read my eBooks mainly but there are books that I adore and I must have them in hard-copy. Those are the books I go and buy from a bookstore. But then there are books that I have not been able to find in Kenya such as Colleen Hoover’s books and I have to find an alternative to getting them. I recently sent my boyfriend for some of the books that I wanted when he was going back home in Europe. I will be getting some more books when I head down there in a few weeks.

As much as the eBooks take the crown for me, I cannot say that it gives me the same high I get from my paperbacks. No way. They are very convenient and come in handy but it cannot completely rule out the paperbacks and hardbacks. But there is the fact that they are significantly cheaper than their counterparts. A hardback could be $25 when an eBook is going for $9.99. That’s a huge difference especially if you read a lot of books like me. I have come across books that go for less than $5 if they are not on the bestseller list. There are free books on both the Kindle and iBook app. An eBook makes more financial sense in such a case.

I haven’t talked much about hardbacks because I find them very cumbersome. I have never been a fan of them. They take up too much space and I find them very heavy so I have never purchased a copy. But I get the appeal they have in that they do not get worn out as easily as the paperbacks. Their ‘shelflife’ would be longer than that of the paperbacks and I can see how this would be appealing to people. And the fact that I have never purchased a copy rules me out in giving a solid opinion on them.

All in all, I would pick an eBook over anything else mostly due to the convenience but I know for a fact that I will always purchase a copy of the books that I love the most in paperback. In short, maybe we shouldn’t have to pick one from the other. They can mutually exist. I will not shun the eBooks because I merely love the smell of books nor will I shun the physical books because of the conveniences of the e-readers. They can mutually exist. I can have psychical books and use an e-reader at the same time depending on what drives me to pick one over the other. Whatever the medium is, they all allow the readers to read and that is the point.

What’s your say in this? Have you fallen for the eBook culture?

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