Hellooo everyone ♥
I know that we’ve seen this question pretty much everywhere and there have been tons and tons of answers already but I just wanted to share my opinion and hear yours as well.
Lately I noticed that I had a difficulty reading an actual physical book due to neck/back pain (due to studying/sitting for too long in my desk) which made me really uncomfortable whenever I had to stay in a particular position to keep reading especially that the ones I’m used to -the positions- aren’t exactly neck/back-friendly (also, I don’t read while laying down). Normally, your book should be at your eyes’ level and, not being Muscle Man, my arms won’t stand it for more than a few minutes and will get incredibly sore so the solution for me was: ebooks (or get active but naaah)! So I was just wondering: Are ebooks really that bad? and I wanted to use this platform to discuss it and know what are your thoughts on it.
Before going into listing the pros and cons of each of the physical books and the ebooks, I just feel like I need to say something first. I haven’t always been a reader. I only started by the time I was 14 or 15 where I had finally access to my school’s library and the Harry Potter series. In Morocco, we sadly don’t have this habit of reading. Due to that, reading is pretty much considered a luxury. Also, books are kind of very expensive (Illuminae? 40$ – Homegoing? 27$, all in paperback, let us not talk about the hardcovers) and hard to get by in English because it is not our first language and we do not prioritize it compared to Arabic and French. I went to the biggest library in my city only to find like 50 books in english, total and all of which are romance outdated stuff, that I do not particularly enjoy. Luckily, I’ve found this amazing bookshop in Tangier, a city 200 miles away, that gets all the new releases, have an amazing customer service and they ship books to wherever you are in Morocco. Still expensive (not at all compared to the others though) but it’s fast and it works for me.
That is to say that physical books are not thrown out for cheap in this country and we have a hard time to get copies. I do get sometimes the “Why so picky? Just read in French!” and I’ve tried. I really tried! Translation just… UGH! It’s just not the same. Whenever I hear Damon or Enzo’s voices in the French version of The Vampire Diaries (or ANY other translated TV show), it makes me cringe. Same for a translation of a work of fiction! It takes away all of the good things. And I’ve used Damon and Enzo as an example because I love their voices and it’s a shame not to hear it.
Enough about my life, let’s talk now about: Books vs. Ebooks! So here are some pros and cons of reading a physical copy and an ebook based on my own experience.
1) The cover and the prettiness
Books are pretty. There are some with horrendous covers and I hope that they’ll stop making those one day but in general, covers are pretty. They’re so good to look at, thing that you usually don’t get with an e-reader because you don’t get the shiny parts and to feel the cover with your hands (weird, i know). And besides have you seen a hardcover? I know that all books are pretty to start with but the hardcovers are just magnificent and a pretty collection or series look so good on a shelf so it serves both as a decoration and as a source of nerdy pleasure.
2) The Shopping Experience™
I hate shopping. Like, a lot! But when it comes to books, it’s a whole different story. I know that I usually don’t have the possibility to go to a bookshop because if I go, I know in advance that I won’t find what I’m looking for aka an english book, ANY english book. But if you live abroad or if you aren’t as picky as me when it comes to language/translation and you’re a true bookworm, chances are you’re going to spend hours there. Sometimes when I feel like reading in French and I go out to buy the books, I usually stay there for so long and one book leads me to another. Sometimes I fear being kicked out for staying in one place for so long, reading the title of each and every book looking for something that might interest me, flip through it, sneakingly smell it… Why kicked out? Because the bookshop I love is crazy small and if I stand somewhere, I usually block the way for other people…
3) Meeting potential friends
It doesn’t happen a lot, I know. But usually with a physical copy, people, some people, come to you and ask you “What are you reading?” and sometimes they have read the book and sometimes you’ve read loads of similar books too! And just imagine for a second if you happen to love the same authors or characters or anything that’s bookish. Wouldn’t that be amazing? It only happened to me once but I really enjoyed it! Especially that it wasn’t an attempt at flirting (which is a big issue where I live) but actual interest in literature.
4) Stolen or ruined? Okay
Imagine you’re reading while taking a bath and a book gets soaking wet. Now imagine if your iPad gets soaking wet. Both hurt but one less. When I went to Belgium, on my way to the hotel (10min walk), I had a backpack with a few books and it started raining. I LOVE rain! And I completely forgot about the possibility of getting my books wet. It’s only when I went to the hotel that I noticed that all my books were ruined. Still readable, but ruined. If the same thing happened to my iPad though, I’ll be much more upset because that bad boy needs loads of savings to get bought. Same for if it’s stolen!
1) Very light
I don’t know about you but whenever I go to school, I usually take loads of copybooks and sometimes textbooks too which makes bringing a book with me, or two… Hard. Sometimes I hold it in my hand and go out but it can’t always work out so I’d rather have an ereader which are made to be very thin and light with aaaall the books. In case of travelling, it makes it easier too.
I hope this is no crime but yes, I multitask while reading. I like to read while doing other things because I don’t really have the luxury to spend hours on reading while forgetting about my school work / my required reading / food… It happens sometimes -not multitasking- but it’s mainly during holidays. Most of the time though I like to write notes and use both my hands without having to pick up a book, go back to the page where I was and then go back to my writing and pick up once again that book and patati patata… With an ebook it’s much more simpler. One click and you’re okay!
3) Access and Price
For a physical copy, you have to go out and purchase it or order it and wait weeks for it to come. For an ebook, again, it’s one click away. You can do it all from your bed! Also, it’s less expensive. Maybe if you do have a library in your city and you can get new releases for free or if you have loads of resources to get a book for really cheap, this probably won’t speak to you. But when you’re looking at a book that you’ll take for half its price just because it’s an electronic version… In my case, I don’t even need to think about it. It’s ebook all the way! Of course, there are some exceptions: when the ebook costs way more than 10 Dollars.
4) Dictionary, Notes and Search options
I personally use either the iPad or the iPhone to read and iBooks is amazing! I just love it! It’s so easy to use. (I haven’t really tried other platforms though. I was wondering about whether to get an ereader but I don’t know if there’s a difference so if anyone of you thinks that an ereader is better, please let me know!) Sometimes when I come across a difficult word, I don’t need to go pick an actual dictionary or go to Safari to look it up. It’s all there and it’s really useful. Also, I can highlight anything I want and apply the same color code I have for physical books and not only that, but I can add notes too! No need for extra pencil or tabs which is really my favourite thing.
This might not be the case for everyone but sometimes, I only manage to find one edition of a certain book. And this one edition is very… naked. Now I know there is no shame in flesh and bones but I just can’t. I can’t imagine myself sitting with my family or anywhere, to be honest, with a daring cover. And so here comes the ebook again! The cover? Black, or silver or whatever color your tablet/ereader is! Total privacy and that’s a plus for me!
Even though we can list so many pros to eBooks, it’s still like “Ugh, something’s missing!” but I would say that I’m neither team physical copy nor team ebook simply because in some cases, the ebook is much more practical (back pain/multi tasking…) than the physical copy and in others, well, you just NEED that book. Also, I’m kind of a minimalist, if I dare say so, in other words, I do not like to have books that are not reaaaally special on my shelves and I wouldn’t go to buy a certain book unless I’ve heard so much about it and I’ve been recommended to read it by trusted fellows. I only buy what I’m certain to love in a physical copy. For other “first-try”, “out of curiosity” books, I’d rather pick an ebook (but if it’s a really pretty cover,
don’t judge me, i’ll go with physical copy ).
So, this is how I go about choosing between an ebook and a physical copy. Are you team book or team ebook? Are there any pros that you don’t see in this list? Also, do you have any favorite collections of physical books to have on your shelves? Personally, I love the Puffin Classics Deluxe Edition, the Puffin in Bloom Collection, the Penguin Clothbound Classics and Mr. Boddington’s Penguin Classics. Let’s chat in the comments, I’d love to hear your inputs!