SMACKDOWN! Books vs. eBooks: The Constant Struggle for Equality

We’ve started a new feature here on After the Last Page!

This is where it all goes down! Where we pit characters against characters, books against books, or anything we damn well please versus anything else we damn well please.

Welcome to… SMACKDOWN!

BOOKSEBOOKS                

It’s time to tackle the ages old argument: Paper books vs electronic books.

(Ok, well, maybe only years old, since eBooks as we popularly know them have only been around since the 2000′s. But you get my point.)

As a public librarian, I have always been a firm supporter of paper books. Some of that was a result of selfishness on my part (“I’ll be out of a job if this eBook thing takes over!”) and also my fear of new technologies (“when the machines rise up against us, eReaders will just be one more  soldier in their army!”)

Remember these?

Remember these?

My support of books was also founded in the fact that I never grew up with lots of technology. When you wanted a book, you either went to the library or grabbed the yellowing copy of R.L. Stine that was sitting on your bookshelf for years. When you wanted to play a game,  you didn’t grab your iPad and play Angry Birds… you dusted off the battered box that contained monopoly money and Chance and Community Chest cards. If you wanted to hang out with a friend, you didn’t text or tweet. You called them on the phone then rode your bike to their house. What can I say? I’m old school (and really showing my age, apparently).

So, needless to say, when it comes to my reading habits, I like to keep it real and grab myself a hardcover.There’s something about holding a book in your hand that makes a reading experience REAL for me. I think it’s the smell and feel of the pages, the struggle to find a comfortable position to read in, the weight of book as it falls on your face and crushes your nose when it falls from your hands when being suspended precariously above your head (but that last part might just be me).

So over Christmas, I did the unthinkable… I bought myself a Kindle.

KindleI didn’t go crazy, I just got one of the most basic that Amazon offers. It doesn’t stream movies or download apps. Heck, the thing isn’t even in color. I bought it for the sole purpose of READING. I had the Kindle app on my phone, but with all the books I’ve been reading from NetGalley and the library’s digital eBook collection, I found reading entire books on a 3-inch screen just wasn’t doing it for me. So I broke down and bought it.

And I love this crazy little device so much I almost can’t stand myself because of it.

In addition to having the convenience of having several books with me at all times, it’s obviously much easier to read on screen that’s double the size. It’s light, portable, backlit, and I also now have access to more eBooks from the public library (some of which aren’t offered in print form), not to mention access to eBooks from other public libraries in the area. Being from Pennsylvania, I was able to register for a library card online at the Philadelphia Free Library, receive it in the mail, and now have access to their entire catalog of eBooks. I’m officially in eBook heaven!

Another interesting (and kinda weird) thing I noticed about having a Kindle? I’m finally reading books on my TBR list that I may never have gotten to in paper form. Books that have been on my TBR list since 2007 keep getting pushed father and farther down in favor of the awesome new books that are coming out now. I know me, and I know how my head works: the farther down that list they get, the less likely I’ll be to read them (which is sad, really). And I’m finally reading them! Why, you ask? I won’t lie… mostly because I’m pumped to play with my new toy. Since a lot of older titles are the ones available from libraries (the newer titles have waitlists in the double digits), I can kick back and happily say, “HEY! I can read Going Bovine on my Kindle! FIRE THAT SUCKER UP!” or “Hey, Lola and the Boy Next Door. I always wanted to read that. It’s available for Kindle, you say?! Well, I don’t mind if I do!”

VERDICT:

Am I now a hopeless eBook addict? Absolutely not. I still love paper books with every fiber of my being and won’t give them up for the world. But I can see the value and many positive sides to owning an eReader. If it’s something new, fun, and interactive that actually gets people to read (especially children growing up in the digital age), then I’m all for it. It’s also worth noting that if you’re like me and don’t have the expendable income to routinely spend money on books, whether they be paper or digital, you can still have access to plenty of free titles through your local or area libraries.

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