In any good argument, there exist two sides both vehemently sure that the other is absolutely, 100% wrong. Classic examples include Britain versus France, Mac versus PC, and marshmallow versus pecan toppings. In the past two years or so, a new argument has emerged and both sides are waging a fierce war. I’m talking about ereaders.
The two camps, the ereader-lovers and the ereader-haters, both make excellent points. Ereaders provide portability (who wouldn’t want to download a new book minutes before a long flight?), flexibility (the idea of bringing along a whole bookshelf of books in one small, lightweight device is thrilling to an avid reader), and a whole new set of books designed only for an ereader.
The haters are screaming about losing the physical book and its history, losing the smell and feel of a book in your hands, and losing the physical library or the physical bookshelf which gives so many people (myself included) happy, tingly feelings.
Clearly, the battle lines have been drawn.
Where am I amidst this passionate book lovers’ war? I’m searching for middle ground.
I love books. For my upcoming birthday (yikes…), my best friend made me a beautiful bookmark that proclaims me to be a bibliophile. I accept that title proudly. Not only am I a lover of books, I am a collector of books. My favorite quote by Erasmus sums up my devotion: “When I have a little money I buy books…if any left over, I buy food and clothes”. I fit this description perfectly; I bet if I added up the amount of money I’ve spent this year at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, on shipping for PaperBackSwap (got to ship books to get credits!), and at the used bookstore, it would be quite a bit more than what I spent on clothes. I have three bookcases full of books; romances, general fiction, cookbooks, childhood books, I make no distinction in the type of book I choose to save and what I sell or trade. The only requirement to land it on my keeper shelf (er…shelves) is that I have or will read it at least twice.
My book hoarding tendencies make ebooks very appealing. One, ebooks tend to be cheaper (on some things, not everything) so I wouldn’t be spending as much as I do know. Two, I love the idea of being able to download a book right then, right when I find it. I hate reading a review at work, then either having to check to see if the library has it and put it on reserve, order it from PaperBackSwap, or try to find it at a real bookstore (I use online book shopping as a last resort). It takes some work and if it’s something new, I’m pretty much guaranteed to only be able to buy it so why not by it ebook form? And three, there are some really good books (especially romances) out there only being published as ebooks. I would very much like to read them on something other than my computer or my phone.
So, overall, ebooks seem like a great option for someone like me. I should very firmly be on ebook-loving side of the war, right? WRONG!
I’m still somewhere in the middle, probably screaming for someone to come rescue me at this point.
Why am I still in the middle? Because some books are not meant to be read as an ebook. Sometimes it is necessary (at least for this book hoarder) to have a copy (preferably a hardback copy, complete with dust jacket, if it comes that way) on the bookshelf. Many books have sensory memories for me, and I wouldn’t trade the smell and feel of Deathly Hallows in my hands for anything. I have certain books that I will never buy for my ereader. Nora Roberts, certain Loretta Chase books, any YA fantasy series that requires me to read every book, in order, at least once a year (Harry Potter, Twilight, Narnia, The Hunger Games, you get the picture), and anything that continues or completes a series that I already have in print.
Just because I’ll soon be joining those with ereaders doesn’t mean I’ll be giving up the library. I still plan to check out physical books, especially those that I want to read but have no intentions of ever reading again, and with the right ereader, I can also check out ebooks, which I find incredibly appealing.
So here I am, firmly in the middle. With the ereader Santa is bringing me for Christmas, I will be happily buying new books, but I will never forgo my lovely library and my much loved print books. Sometimes a girl just needs a book to hold to make it all better.
What camp are you in? Or are you in the middle like me?