I jumped on the ebook bandwagon as an early adopter. I owned an early Sony reader, with a dreadful store, especially up here in Canada. I owned a Kindle and I used various readers on my iPad. I loved the portability, the convenience, the instant gratification. I told all of my friends that paper was dead, done and over.
But recently a funny thing happened. During the last year, I found myself buying fewer and fewer ebooks and returning to good old paper instead. Rather than browsing amazon, I am visiting book stores. It started as a health concern, when I learned about the correlation between evening screen time and interrupted sleep patterns. Sleep is precious to me, especially with three young children in the house. As I do a lot of my reading in the evening, this was important.
Then I read the licensing terms for ebooks and didn’t like them one bit. My paper books I own. I’ve got the right of first sale. I can legally lend them to a friend, sell them on if I feel like it. With ebooks, I own nothing. Also, short of breaking into my house, amazon will have a hard time removing books from my shelves, the way they have done from people’s kindle accounts.
But the thing that clinched the change back to paper for me was that I remembered how much I like to be surrounded by books, real books.
I like browsing a well stocked library and picking out a book for the evening. I like the smell of books, the feel of paper. I like that paper books don’t need to be recharged, they don’t go down when the power does. I like that real books age. I like that fact that ink on paper will still be around and relevant when today’s ebook standards will long be forgotten. I like that my children’s children will be able to read my books the way I read my grandfather’s books.
I still think there’s a place for ebooks. The convenience can’t be beat, especially when travelling. I still don’t understand why paper books don’t come with download codes the way music on vinyl does these days. I’d happily pay an extra dollar or two for the privilege.
But there is a pleasure in the analogue that the virtual has a hard time matching. So please excuse my while I put my iPad down, put a vinyl record on my vintage turntable and go read a good book.