What are “Real” Books Anyway?



Recently, I ran into an article about how “real” books are better than e-books. When talking about “real” books, the authors were trying to talk about print. It seems like people would rather criticize a new medium of reading than actually give it a try. That being said, I still read print books. Some books are available through Kindle or other providers, yet I read them using print sources. Even though I do not personally use them, I also think that audiobooks are also considered “real” books. Some people do not have the time to read and use audiobooks in that course, or it is easier to listen than to read. Looking at Internet culture, people are only allowed to have two opinions about books. They either love e-books and hate print or love print and hate e-books. The culture of books is changing too rapidly to hold fast to either stance.

1. Libraries

Library books are in and of themselves convenient. The books save people money by not needing to buy the books that are popular or out of print. Libraries have had books on tape. These books are now translated into MP3s. In addition to Mp3s, e-books are available to be be read through e-book format. The books can be borrowed for as long as print books. This does not hinder the reader in the time that it may take to read the book. The Mp3s may be taken out for a shorter time, yet I think that is because the libraries think that listening takes a shorter time than “actually” reading.

2. Multi-book Reading

In using the Kindle (or other favored e-readers), the user has the possibility to download multiple books. Even still, there are books that are not even available in e-book format. Yet since e-book publishing is seemingly easy to get into (as one who has never tried nor knows much about publishing), people are publishing through electronic format to get their foot in the door. This offering of books in multiple formats helps the reader gain opportunity to help cut down on the To Be Read book faster. I know not everybody reads multiple books at a time, but if the reader does, they can.

3. Privacy

This is where a majority people take sides. With print books, you can show the person who is annoying you the cover. Yet, e-books do not have that advantage. That is where jokes that say that e-reader people are hiding what they are reading come from. To be honest whether reading a print or e-book, other people do not need to know. Yes, a cover can be a conversation starter. Yet, what if you are not looking for conversation? Covers do not have a good outright solution. E-books have the advantage of course with the privacy along with Mp3s.

4. Marginalia

While you cannot write an exact feeling in an Mp3, you can in e-books and print. However, marginalia is frowned upon especially in print books. Though it really does not harm the book, the emotional connection somehow disappears when writing happens in books. Yet, it is an accepted practice to highlight and add notes in e-books. E-readers have functions to share these quotes and notes. Personally, I write in books. I will even share the books with writing in it. It is a small act of “rebellion.” The e-book gives power to the patron when they highlight and annotate in library books (not that people sometimes do in print books).

5. Convenience

Mp3s are a new sort of book. People can listen to books on the go while pretending to be listening to music (the perfect disguise). E-books are also convenient for travel because the sheer number of books that a person can carry. Can print books be convenient? Yes, they can. Print books are easier for research projects. The page numbers are easily displayed in an easily found format. Every single one of the formats has its ease of convenience. There is no better format. Each pulls its weight to help society. There is no superior format.

Since each format has its advantage and disadvantage, it is only a matter of opinion of which is best. People decide which format is best for them. People may always cling to print books for the scent and feel (and Vashta Nerada), yet these will not always be the reigning form. People may find a format better than e-readers or Mp3 or books. The best thing to do is to embrace the change and not slam people for the choice.


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