Books vs. E-books

In this present age of new technologies, fads and a consumerist society, the simple pleasures and wonders in life are often tossed aside. This rant will attempt to affirm at least one of these for future generations; the object of which have never been in question in my eyes. Whether its aesthetics or environmental sustainability or practicality or price; classic books beat e-books in every regard.

Aesthetics: A book you can hold and feel. You can physically turn the pages in your hand and feel the texture of the paper as you do so. You can smell the sweet scent of a book when you open its pages; a relaxing and calming scent. You can see the age of a novel by the colour of its pages. You can see the times that it made you cry by the tear-stained pages. You can hug a novel to your chest and appear completely normal. Who am I kidding? You look like a book-loving nerd 🙂 A row of books looks pretty on your bookcase, full of colour and textures. People these days don’t have many textures to feel, books are one of the few exceptions. You can buy them in hardcover and soft cover, thick pages or thin, adult’s cover or children’s… The options are endless.

E-readers are harsh and cold. They come in a variety of metallic colours, none of which is calm or relaxing. You can smell nothing but metal. You can turn nothing but an artificial page with the slide of a finger. On the shelf, it’s just another piece of modern equipment. It does not help you escape your everyday life, it shoves it in your face. The screen is bright and harsh to look at and may even hurt your eyes if viewed for too long. It separated you from others, strangers can no longer comment on the book you are reading because there is no front page. E-readers are lifeless and cold.

Environmental Sustainability: As an environmental science student, people probably wonder “Why would you support a product that causes the destruction of nature?” For one thing, I am entirely against the destruction of all natural environments from deserts to pristine rainforests to grasslands and wetlands. But plantations do not fall into this category. Although I’d much rather see a natural environment there instead, plantations in themselves can have some benefits. The trees in them take up CO2, which is then stored in the wood as it is used to create products (ie. books). This in itself could help prevent the enhanced greenhouse effect. Also, animals tend not to live in them because the plants are all the same age and the same type, so their destruction is not displacing anymore native species than an agricultural area would.

E-readers, on the other hand, do much worse. First of all, they are made of plastics which need extensive manufacturing to be created and a large amount of water and electricity to make. The metals that are also needed for the e-readers have to be mined, and everyone knows how bad mines are for the environment. From the pollution they cause (both air pollution and chemical pollution) to the destruction they cause to natural habitats and way in which they make the ground unstable. Mines are bad for natural environments in every respect. In addition, everyone knows that today we live in a consumerist society. We buy products and, before they even break, we throw them out and replace them with new ones. This is exactly what will happen with e-readers. Thousands upon thousands will be thrown into dumpsites everywhere and, unlike books, they will take centuries to break down. Sure, e-books might be incredibly environmentally friendly, but the e-reader you need to read them are not.

Price: Books can be very expensive, costing hundreds of dollars for some textbooks. But I am not taking of textbooks, but novels. A new novel can cost anywhere from $15 to $30, but you can also buy them second-hand (I bought all three The Lord of the Rings novels for $6). These prices are fairly good for a solid object that you can hold and read.

Looking through the iBook store I can see that most novels cost under $17, and this isn’t too bad even if all you’re buying are words on a screen, but this is not where the real cost lies. E-readers can cost anywhere from $60 to over $400! In addition to this, they will probably end up being replaced in a couple of years anyway when it breaks or when a new model comes out. E-books may be cheaper but to read them costs a lot more. I have heard of a new system that libraries are creating where you can borrow e-books but once again, the price of the e-reader still stands. Then there is the extra price of chargers (whether wall or car) and cases to protect it.

Practicality: Yes books are bulky, easily damaged and you cannot read them without a light but they never need charging, they never run out of battery and if you lose or destroy one book, you will not lose all your others as well. Also, the price of replacing a book dropped in water is far cheaper than fixing an e-reader that has been through the same misfortune. If you drop a book the worst it’ll get is a crease or a small tear. If you drop an e-reader the whole thing could break. The only true practical benefit of an e-reader is that they are easier to read for the vision impaired, for all other circumstances it falls flat on its electronic face.

Whether its aesthetics or environmental sustainability or practicality or price; classic books beat e-books in every regard.

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9 thoughts on “Books vs. E-books

  1. beckyday6 says:

    Fantastic discussion, and you make some really great points! I think physical books beat eBooks in every regard as well, but unfortunately a lot of other people disagree. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t worry about physical books disappearing, but with everyone’s obsession with new technology I do get very worried about books future.

    I’m planning on doing a post on this in the very near future, I hope mine comes out as well as yours! 🙂

  2. Gemma says:

    Traditional books are so much better by far! I’m one of those people that I like things in a physical form rather than an electronic form. Books, cd’s, photo’s, I’d much rather have all of these things in a hard copy than an electronic one (might also be the fact electronics seem to like to screw up on me and delete loads of my stuff, therefore I am paranoid :P). Besides, as you mentioned, why on earth would you want to miss out on that awesome book smell! Excuse me a moment /inhales bookcase 😀

  3. clementinewinter says:

    You’ve got it down pat, covered everything in this review! There are clear pros and cons to both, I have an e-reader but will always be a classic book lover. I can see both sides of the discussion though. Well Done.

  4. fringster says:

    I would still dig reading books. Perhaps I am just old-fashioned but I don’t care. I like it.

  5. […] and be fully replaced with the Kindle? Never! I will not live to see this terrible decline! See my Books vs. E-books rant to see […]

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