In the modern era of technology, we can barely imagine our day-to-day activities without electronic devices. Devices with Internet access have become the source of information, entertainment, and even work, making remote jobs more and more popular. The latter is especially important now because of the governments’ preventive measures in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak: most people with office jobs can efficiently work from home using just their laptops. In our spare time, we make use of our screens as well as watching movies and TV-shows. The same trend of digitalization came to the book industry leading to the rise of electronic books, or shortly e-books. Whereas many people predict the extinction of printed books, book shops are still open, and their owners do not seem to plan closing businesses anytime soon. This question is complex, and both material and electronic books have plenty of pros and cons.
How E-books Took their Place
Surprisingly, first e-books appeared even before smartphones or tablets. In the ’90s, they were called personal digital assistants, and one could read a book text on a small black-and-white screen fitting only one line, which now appears totally impractical. The first devices which were similar to an actual book were released by Sony in 2006 and Amazon in 2007, creating a worldwide trend. Simultaneously, a large amount of data previously available exclusively on printed sources was digitized, which enabled easier access to any book or piece of information via electronic devices. In this way, an increasing number of people started reading on their smartphones, computers, tablets, and e-books instead of printed material.
Ecological Point of View
Electronic books’ admirers prove that buying printed books is not an ecologically friendly option. One Kindle can contain thousands of books, saving millions of trees. Although an e-book needs electricity to be charged, it can last much longer without a charger compared to a smartphone, which, on average, needs to be recharged every day. In this way, the electricity consumption is not that large for e-books, and their contribution to the deforestation decrease is quite important.
Ease of Use
The paper takes up space, whereas one PDF book may take just a few megabytes. Obviously, a well-stocked library consisting of books in a paper format may look posh and beautiful but requires space, which is not ideal for those who live in a small apartment. Printed books are also a source of dust in our homes. Plus, material books are heavy to carry. In the handbag, when traveling, when moving… during those moments, many of us would prefer having one electronic device of 200 grams instead of printed copies of their favorite books.
A printed copy can last longer, even though ads tell us that electronic devices are timeless. While paper may seem fragile, electronic books are subject to the evolution of digital media. The software and formats used today can change dramatically or even disappear as technology advances. Indeed, what will happen if Amazon stops producing its Kindles? What will happen to your digital library? So many questions that do not arise with a paper book. In any way, we still have books brought to our homes by our grandparents; at the same time, it is highly doubtful that our grandchildren will still be using our e-books.
Another advantage of e-books is that they are actually cheaper than the print version. For example, a paperback of “The Great Gatsby” by F. S. Fitzgerald costs $11 on Amazon plus delivery. In contrast, the Kindle version can be bought for only $1.99 and will be available instantly. By going digital, you can enjoy more reading for less money.
An undeniable advantage of a paper book is that it has a smell and a texture. Turning the pages is part of the pleasure of reading, and some still cannot let go of it. The digital book simply does not offer the same feeling. You can also flip through a paper book to get an idea of the content, which is not that practical with the digital book. In addition, a paper book can be lent and offered. However, it will be more difficult to borrow an e-reader.
Thanks to the Internet and electronic devices, new authors can self-publish and release their books in digital format at a lower cost. This is not a secret that traditional publishing houses receive thousands of manuscripts each year, and only a small percentage receives a contract. Besides, it is much easier for people looking for high-quality essay writers in the Internet era, just as it is easier for writers to find a job. In such a way, the development of e-books represents an additional opportunity to start writing or discover new talents.
On the other hand, for an author, holding their book in hands is essential. It gives them an incomparable feeling and can help them feel like a real writer. Self-published authors can now print their writing in a paper version, which allows them to keep their books and distribute copies to their relatives. What is more, a digital copy can be distributed illegally that deprive the authors of their income.
The arrival of the e-book readers has shaken the literary world, but the paper book is still far from saying its last word. These two reading instruments coexist rather well in the literary world. The digital book has not replaced the paper book. On the contrary, it complements it giving us a more extensive choice.
Markus lives in San Francisco, California and is the video game and audio expert on Good e-Reader! He has a huge interest in new e-readers and tablets, and gaming.