Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Books - real or digital?

Last April I wrote a blog, as part of the A-Z Challenge, about real books versus e-books. I declared very firmly:

“I’ve been firmly in the ‘real books’ camp for a long time. I love books. All the shelves in my home bear witness to that. I haven’t counted, but there must be several hundred.

Most of them I’ll never read again, but I hate parting with them. If I take a bag of books to the local charity shop (simply to make some room on the shelves), I agonise over which to put into the bag.

I like a real book in my hands. I like the look, feel and smell of it. I love browsing in bookshops, both new and used, studying titles and authors, reading the blurb, sometimes dipping into a few pages.

I was convinced I wouldn’t succumb to an electronic book reader. Quite apart from my love of real books, I don’t particularly enjoy learning how to cope with ‘new’ technology.

But then my daughter showed me her ‘Kindle’ and demonstrated how easy it was to download e-books. My interest was kindled (pardon the pun!)

I started thinking of the almost-two-inch thick tome I put in my suitcase for holiday reading last year. How much easier to take a slim e-reader instead.

I started thinking about the American-published books by many of my internet friends. How much easier to download these instead of waiting for them to be mailed (and paying extra for postage and packing).

I started thinking of no longer having to clear some room on my shelves to make room for new books.

My daughter then bought me a Kindle for my birthday last August, and I have to say I am totally hooked! Not just for holiday reading (although I did take it with me on my recent trip to Italy), but for other times too. Times when I probably wouldn’t have taken a book with me, such as when I was meeting up with a friend – and managed to read a few pages while I was waiting for her, the time I was waiting at the doctor’s for my flu-shot, and the time I sat in the supermarket’s coffee shop while my daughter went off to do some shopping.

Any ‘waiting’ time has now become reading time for me. Another bonus is that I’ve been able to read books  I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to obtain here in the UK, and also books which are only available as e-books.

Having said that, I still like ‘real’ books, especially my own. There is nothing to beat holding your own book, with your own name on the cover, in your own hands!


  1. I agree with your last paragraph! I like real books and e-books. My favorite authors will always be purchased as paper books, but I'm more willing to try new authors as e-books, especially since the e-books are cheaper. And now that my library lends them, it's even easier. I think both versions have their place and I hope we continue with both of them for a very long time.

  2. I, too, lean to real books. I don't think I'll ever think differently about them. I do, however, have an ipad with a Kindle app. There are some books that just don't come any other way. What else can you do but embrace both.

  3. Great post Paula. I like both, but for some odd reason I'd rather read the classics e.g. Austen, Dickens etc as 'real' books, and 'popular' books e.g. contemporary romances, as ebooks.

  4. Jen, I agree that there's a place for both but I think the e-book revolution will mean a lot less books in the bookshops, particularly paperbacks, in the future.

  5. Wendy - many publishers, even the traditional ones, are going over to digital publishing so, as you say, many books are no longer available as 'real'books.

  6. An interesting distinction, Katheryn, but I tend to agree with you. It wouldn't seem the same reading Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte on an e-reader somehow!

  7. I totally agree, Paula. I love holding a book in my hand, and I love having a library in my house to hold my collection. And I especially enjoy seeing MY books on its shelves! :)

    That said, as I've won e-books from several blog contests and would like an easier way to read them than on my laptop or PC. I have a Sony eReader on my Christmas list. (I like the Sony because it can do a variety of formats as opposed to the Nook or Kindle.)

  8. Debra, I once read a whole novel on my PC, and had sore elbows for a week afterwards! Reading an e-book is so much easier, as you say!

  9. I love books, too, but can foresee having a e-reader.

  10. Just buy a kindle! enough said. it's better to read stuff easily.