In today’s Morning Links, I featured an Apartment Therapy article which worked my pet peeve chestnut: the ‘print books versus ebooks’ debate. I hate this one so, so much. I think it’s a really simple-minded analysis to treat print and eBook as a zero-sum game with a winner and a loser. Many readers, such as myself, freely purchase both types of book. I personally do have paper book shelf space, I just choose carefully what I fill it with and favour the artsy, beautiful ones that just don’t translate as well to e-forms.
So, why did I feature this article, then? I featured it because I think it has a grain of truth to it. I think there are many people who are like that Apartment Therapy blogger in that they love books, they bought a Kindle or eBook reader to try it out, and then…then they went back to reading paper, for whatever reason.
The AT article mentions the lack of a second-hand market, difficulty in lending, difficulty in skimming ahead and just feeling the paper experience is ‘nicer’ in their reasons why paper ‘won.’ And I know people who went ‘back’ to paper for other reasons. My mother never quite got the hang of loading books herself. My stepfather doesn’t really care what he reads, so he’ll just pick up whatever it available—and my mother is a bit of a social butterfly, has many friends and swaps books freely with them, so something always is around in paper. The Beloved broke his Kobo, read for awhile on an Android tablet, broke that too and then decided he would rather read blogs and articles anyway. And my father-in-law, who had an iPad in his hand for as long as I’ve known him, found that even Amazon’s alleged lowering of the price bar couldn’t compete with the ‘free’ of the public library. And since so many people like me have defected to the e-side, he had the waiting lists for the less-popular books he wanted pretty much to himself.
It still irks me to see such a complex industry reduced to an either/or argument. I know there are many like me who read both paper and electronic content. But I do think there is some truth to the argument that perhaps more people than we might think bought one device to try it out, and then didn’t buy a second one.