In this two-part discussion, I break down why I’m breaking up with eBooks today, and tomorrow I explore eBooks vs paper books – the facts.
For as long as I’ve had this book blog, I’ve wanted to weigh in on the eternal debate – eBook or physical book? There have been so many slants to this topic, so many avenues to explore. This Book Geek has been in a perpetually indecisive eBook funk for as long as I can remember, and now, I’ve finally come to a decision.
When eReaders first came on the scene, I was a firm non-believer. I thought they were sacrilege, and I didn’t want them to take off. I enjoyed the physicality of a book, and I just didn’t think an eReader would be a suitable substitute. I was also petrified that books as we knew (and loved) them, were going to change forever.
Skip ahead a couple of years and I got my hands on a smartphone. I downloaded the Amazon Kindle App, and even though I rarely used it, I picked up the odd cheap (or even free) eBook. They sat on my digital shelves gathering digital dust, only surfacing during a particularly long wait at my GPs office.
By 2013, I still wasn’t reading eBooks, but with the release of various Kindles I was becoming a little more intrigued, and wondered if a dedicated device would make for a better reading experience. Nook, owned by Barnes and Noble, released the Nook Simple Touch in the UK for £29, and I decided to take the plunge. If I hated it, at least it hadn’t cost me a fortune.
I read one book on it. As a reading experience, it was enjoyable enough, but it just never grabbed me. I kept it in a drawer, thinking it may come in useful someday, for holidays and whatnot. I was surprised when I recently received an email informing me that Nook were pulling out of the UK, and that as a customer, I was being migrated to Sainsbury’s (?!). I went through the registration process, but have yet to turn on my Nook to see if it still works.
In 2014, Confessions of a Book Geek was born, and I was introduced to NetGalley, and the wonder of Advanced Reader Copies that I could download to read and review! I did what everyone new to NetGalley does. I downloaded a ton of eBooks. I read these on the Kindle App, either on my tablet or my phone. It worked OK for a little while, but I had to read physical books in between eBooks. I craved the weight of a physical book, and the scent of paper.
Meanwhile, my physical TBR pile was growing substantially, and I wanted to read more back-list titles. eBooks were being overshadowed, and when it was time for me to pick up a new book, I always went for a physical one. Then, in 2016, I started to receive physical books to review from publishers, at which point eBooks became pretty much redundant for me. But, all of these still aren’t the major reasons why I’ll never convert to eBooks…
While usually cheaper than physical books, eBooks aren’t priced according to how much they cost to make. Publishers price them higher than this, so they aren’t too attractive in comparison to print books, or else the bottom could just fall out of the print market. The cost of eBooks was always off-putting to me, especially when it dawned on me that you never own the book. You can’t lend it, sell it, donate it, or destroy it, even though you “bought” it. That’s because you really “rent” it. A technicality, maybe, but I think Amazon and all other eBook retailers should have to say “rent now”, or “license now”, as opposed to “buy now”, because it’s very misleading.
Access to your digital library can be suspended at any time, and books you have “purchased” can even be removed from your digital library permanently. You can’t sell the books themselves, nor the license to access the book, so you have no way to recover any of the “value” of your collection. Digital books should really be consumed as a subscription service with a monthly access fee, as opposed to the false pretence of “ownership” of individual eBooks. A slightly morbid point to make, but a valid one, is that you can’t give/bequeath your book collection to anyone should you kick the bucket (die…). For those of us with substantial collections, that to an extent represent us as individuals, I think this is a significant point to make. So that eBook collection worth a small fortune, goes nowhere and does nothing after you’ve shuffled off the mortal coil. Excellent.
The general population may not agree with my next point, but as a Book Geek I think I can safely say that we all take pride in our personal library and collection. Our books are a form of decoration. Often an outward expression of us as individuals. You can’t really invite a friend to your home, and sit down with a cup of coffee and your Kindle between you as an ambience-creator and conversation starter now, can you?
Just For Fun!
Where do you stand on the long-running debate of eBook versus physical book? Which do you prefer/own most of? Are you an eBook convert after a long time of refusing they exist? Or are you a physical book lover through and through who will never bow to eBooks? Let me know in the comments!