Mary Margaret’s Musings on books

Real paper or backlit screen? Print or electronic? Out with the old or in with the new?

All kinds of books are available in ebook format now – bestsellers, textbooks, even cookbooks and coffee table books. The reason for wanting a book full of large pictures and minimal text in digital format is something I haven’t figured out yet, but the prices can be less than the printed counterpart, and for many people that’s a deciding factor.

College text books are available in ebook format and cut down on the number of books a student carries. Ebooks can often be bookmarked, highlighted and feature a built-in dictionary and thesaurus for convenience.

I like both paper books and ebooks. Nothing beats turning the pages of a real book and being able to put my bookmark on the exact line where I stopped reading. Real books give me a sense of nostalgia that ebooks can’t. On the other hand, I like the convenience and space that ebooks save. My wallet likes ebook prices. With a lit screen reading in the dark is a breeze. No more reading with a light at night.

If someone asked me to choose between the two, I would have a hard time choosing. Both offer different advantages. Currently I have a mix of both; I buy popular books in ebook format and if I love it, I consider buying a printed copy for rereading. I buy what isn’t available as an ebook in print. If I don’t like the book, I give it away.

Ebooks allow authors who might not otherwise be able to get a publishing deal to get their work published and make some money. Out-of-print books can be found in ebook format because the cost is negligible for storage and distribution. Ebooks can be found for free on certain websites; all that’s needed is a compatible device.

Print books have the advantage of being a physical object that can be passed on once the owner is done with it. This is a reason used bookstores are so popular. One volume of a book series can be read by many people and passed on to the next person until the book falls apart.
Ebooks don’t offer the same flexibility as printed book. Some find ebooks to be cold and impersonal and worry that the flat scrolling expanse of words makes it harder to remember the information being read. A copy cannot be passed from person to person, often for free because of the digital nature. Not legally, anyway.

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