Should There be an “E” in “E-Book”?
Maybe all of us know the term “e-book” right now, but I’ll use the definition from Wikipedia just in case some of you don’t know yet.
…The Oxford Dictionary of English defines the e-book as “an electronic version of a printed book,”…
E-books have seen a very significant rise in usage since the year 2000. Back then, e-books were very limited, which resulted in very little people wanting to buy an e-reader just to read e-books. They were also expensive back then, costing almost the same as a hardcover book. But now, a lot of textbooks, even popular books, are in digital format. A lot of websites offer them for free, too. Then, I started to ask myself, “Should I use e-books, or should I just stick to old, paperback books?”
I like to read, but books in my country are a tad expensive. I don’t know if this is the result of a monopoly or what, but some textbooks cost over IDR 100K! If compared to the free e-books I can get from the Internet, I would easily prefer the e-books. They only cost is the Internet connection, which quite cheap, and the download time.
But, the problem with e-books is that they lack the feeling of a real book. You can’t bring them anywhere you want and curl up in a couch for hours with them. Heck, you can’t even bring them to the toilet to read! (It’s my favorite thing to do while doing my number twos.) The one thing I love about paperbacks is the smell of paper and ink, which an e-book will never have except if it was printed. E-books also don’t take up physical space (they only take up space in my hard disk), and considering my very cramped dormitory, they’re a lifesaver. Paperbacks, especially textbooks, are sometimes too thick and take up a lot space on my desk.
An e-book is somewhat disposable. You can easily delete it anytime you want without worrying about anything. Can you bear to do that to a precious paperback which cost you an arm and a leg? I don’t think so. So, an e-book lacks value, except if the e-book is a copy of an out-of-print paperback.
Compared to conventional books, an e-book can never wear out. The pages can’t be eaten by bookworms, the cover can never come off and the ink will never fade. The only bad thing that can happen to an e-book is accidental deletion. The only way to prevent those bad things from happening to a conventional book is to put them inside a special case.
Now the environmental issues comes, which could be a critical point for those green planet supporters. E-books don’t contribute to deforestation. E-books are in the form of electronic data, thus they don’t need paper. Can you say the same to a book which is 1000 pages thick? You can just imagine how many trees were cut down in the making of that book.
Reading an e-book is simple; you can just use an e-reader or your computer with a reader application. Reading a paperback is even simpler; just open it and start reading. However, reading an e-book is just not very comfy. If you have a computer, then you’ll have to sit in front of it for hours, which is not my idea of a comfortable reading pastime. Things change if you have an iPad. The large screen and its design make reading e-books not a pain. But, not all of us have iPads. Also, I just don’t feel comfortable curling up on the couch, gazing at an iPad for hours. Oh yeah, it’s very inconvenient to bring a laptop or iPad just to read an e-book in class.
On another hand, I’ve just discovered that reading textbooks in digital format is more efficient because I can highlight and scribble without worrying about anything since I can remove the marks anytime I want. You can’t do that to a library book!
From an economical side of view, an e-book can be free or a bit pricey. Paperbacks, especially renowned textbooks such as Pearson, Longman, etc. are a tad too pricey. With a strict budget, I can’t imagine having to BUY all of my college textbooks. That’s why I sometimes use e-books, since they’re free, and since I live in a country where imported books are expensive, I’m grateful for the e-books, though some are outdated.
Distributing e-books is a piece of cake, and since I’m a generous person, I usually give them out for free whenever anyone needs it. (It’s good karma, dude.) Buying an e-book is also very convenient, since you don’t need to wait for delivery. It’s different with paperbacks though. Due to copyright, I can’t just duplicate it whenever I want. Duplicating (by duplicating, I mean photocopying) is cheaper than buying the book, but it just doesn’t feel right.
I could go on and on with more comparisons, but I think this is enough. For me, e-books and paperbacks have their own pros and cons, but they serve the same purpose: to provide us with reading materials. But, I think paperbacks will continue to exist because a lot of people still love paperbacks, especially novels. E-books will also continue to be popular due to their accessibility and convenience. We still need both now, but who knows what the future has in store for us? Only time can tell.