There’s something going around on Facebook.
Don’t worry, it’s not a virus. At least I don’t think it is. Though there’s a high likelihood you’ll come down with a severe case of forehead smacking, given this election cycle.
What I’m referring to is summed up pretty well in this picture.
These kinds of memes always spark a heated discussion, and it surprises me. I have both a respectable collection of physical books and three – yes, three – kindles. I don’t much care what format my books are in, but I will say it’s a lot easier to hide book hoarding tendencies on a device.
But some people care big time how their books appear – and those who care the most are usually those securely planted on the printed books side of the debate. They say ebooks take away from the overall experience, that you miss the smell and feel of books, and there’s something about having a stack of books on your nightstand. Plus, real books need not be charged.
On the ebook side of the debate are those like me, who can’t afford to hoard real books as our compulsions demand. Also, there’s the whole aspect of using fewer resources to produce ebooks – no trees or ink needed. Fewer resources = lower price in the long run and better for the environment.
I believe this is a hot debate because it isn’t fueled solely by book lovers. Last year, this rather misleading article came out, as if people were holding their collective breath, waiting for print books’ death rattle. Meanwhile, the Author Earnings Report (see this article for more about that) paints quite a different picture – ebooks are doing quite well, thankyouverymuch. The first article decided to only report on the big publishers, who tend to hike up ebook prices to push print sales, so of course their ebook sales are down.
The interesting thing was when that first article came out, there was a collective rejoicing among print book lovers, with many comments along these lines: See! I told you real books were better! or Thank God! I’ll never give up my print books!
Relax, print fans. No one’s asking you to give up anything. Consider this:
You likely have a phone handy. You may have watched TV shows on it. Are smart phones a threat to TV manufacturers or channels?
There are about eleventy billion gaming apps for various devices. Are they a threat to console gaming systems?
Why haven’t electronic games spelled death for board games?
It’s true that some technologies become outmoded as new products are developed (VHS? What’s that?) but that’s not what’s happening here. As long as the demand for print books remains (and it will), authors and publishers will still produce printed books. Ebooks and print books (and audiobooks) are different means to the same end. And you know what? Neither format is “better” than the other.
Ebooks vs. print books comes down to preference, and the funny thing about preference is no one is wrong. Take a different product entirely – I like Firehouse Subs and my husband likes Jimmy John’s. I’m not gonna get all up in his face for liking the “wrong” sub place that will surely lead to the end of my favorite place. Doing that would make me look silly, because there’s a strong overall demand for sandwiches from both places.
So I suggest using our fighting energy for more important battles. That said, if you’d like to make a case for ebooks or print books in the comments, feel free to do so, but let’s keep it civil, okay?