I’m reading a nice clip this summer. I actually have time to. What? What am I reading? I’m readying Catcher in the Rye right now, and I just finished Paul Auster’s Travels in the Scriptorium. Man, he can write a book. I like to write and I like to read. What can I do? But the question I keep getting, like constantly, is if I’m going to do this whole “Ebook” thing. You getting a Kindle? You getting a Nook? You want an iPad, don’t you? You like them Gadgets! You getting an iPad! Here, I lay out the Pros and Cons of the Ebook and E-reader movement.
Pros: There is this thing called the “Gutenberg Project” that allows you to get a butt-ton of ebooks for the low, low, price of nothing. Which is awesome. At least I think they are free? I’m pretty sure they’re free. So, that’s awesome. And, unlike regular books, ebooks weigh nothing. It is data. And ebooks take up pretty much nothing on your hard drive. They are tiny little buggers. So, if you need space in that little apartment, or if you need to bring twenty books on your trip this summer, ebooks are the way to do it. Also, ebooks are generally cheaper than regular books are brand new. A brand new hard cover book that runs you $25 bones will only cost you about nine of those bones. These are all good things.
Cons: First, there is a practical reason for actual books. Actual books don’t run out of battery life. They don’t break. They don’t get dirty or if they do get dirty you don’t really care much. I could, and have, thrown a book across the room and then picked it up and, hey, it read just fine. Yes, we do use trees to make books. But those cool litte components in those gadgets don’t come from the magic-fairy-land. And, last I checked, we haven’t started burning books yet. Most days, books are printed and sit on your bookshelf. When people come over your house, they look at your book shelf and say, hey, man, you have a ton of books. And in your heart, you know you haven’t finished half of them. But it doesn’t matter.
There is another fundamental reason why I prefer real books over electronic books, and I do prefer real, actual, paper books. I think books are just different than anything else, different than computers or iPads or readers. Books exist as they are and they don’t really exist in another way. They exist just the way they are and they exist just fine. There is nothing wrong with ebooks. It is a smart and good business model. But, I mean, books aren’t going anywhere because they are special. Books feel like books and act like books. A thin tablet can’t replace that feeling of flipping a page, watching a favorite book’s pages turn yellow, the paper turning brittle. And handing some one a book, telling them to keep it, telling them you don’t loan books, you give them, that is something special. And e-books just can’t replace that.