I love e-books. I adore them. I think it’s the best thing for my back since…well since anything really!
I’m the guy who grew up and could never go anywhere without a gym bag or backpack full of books. My parents took us to disneyworld in our teens and I had a suitcase earmarks just for books. My commute to school would constitute 15 to 20 minutes prepartion choosing which dozen to take for the day.
My Palm Tungsten E was a revelation. I’ve since moved from there to a Palm TX and finally my iPhone. My last 40-50 books I’ve read have been e-books (the Kindle app for iPhone is my current favorite). I love having a substantial library with me at all times.
That being said, I have thousands of physical books and I still purchase physical books (to the despair of my loving, supportive and long suffering wife) and let me tell you why I think they should stick around.
1) Physical Books are comforting. There’s something about holding a book. Curling up with an old favorite on a cold gray day just isn’t the same when it’s your iDevice.
2) Physical Books look good. Personally, I love the look and feel of a fully stocked library.
3) It’s more fun to browse physical books. Have you ever spent the afternoon at a bookstore or a library? Ever pick up books at random because you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for? There’s nothing else like it. I find the biggest failure with online book stores and search engines is that, while they work when you know what you want, they completely fail when you have no idea what you are looking for. It’s a lot more fun and interesting to browse the racks at your local bookstore or wander the stacks at your library and seeing where it takes you than clicking on the bestsellers in each category on Amazon or something. I don’t necessarily want to see what’s selling best at those times. I want to see what I might otherwise not have seen.
4) Speaking of libraries, e-books don’t really lend. Yes, I know there are several initiatives in the works to make lendable e-book systems but I am not hopeful as to their success. I believe content providers are still much too concerned with control to allow them to work. Libraries full of physical books that anyone can borrow are a treasure that should be cherished and a resource that should be protected and well used.
5) You can’t sign an e-book. I currently have a friend’s signed copy of Old Man’s War in my living room against the day I can return it (everyone, wave at Phnee! Hi Phnee!) and I own a signed copy of an Anne Rice novel. You can’t really have that with an e-book.
6) E-books don’t need batteries and the UI is very simple. This has been said before and will be said again (but this is my blog so I’ll say it here…so there!). When the power goes out, a lamp and a book go a long way.
7) You just can’t have Pop Up e-books! My daughter isn’t quite old enough, but when she is, I know she’ll enjoy the dozens of pop-up books we already have for her. I can’t imagine denying any child the experience of a pop up book can you?
Don’t be shy, tell me why you think we should keep (or get rid of) physical books?