In defence of eBooks

.    Image: Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday’s post had the inflammatory, and slightly misleading title of “The anti-eBook rant”. So to balance things out a bit, today I present to you, “In defence of eBooks”. Of course, as with yesterday’s title, it is a bit misleading. I’m not really going to defend eBooks — they don’t need defending… they’re doing quite nicely without my metaphorical sword and shield.

Yesterday I outlined why I don’t currently read eBooks. Today I’m going to tell you under what circumstances I would use them in the foreseeable future.

Remember what I wrote about my need for a physical product? About how I purchase music on CD and then transfer it to my iPod. Well, if the dead-tree books that I purchased came with a digital copy as well… then perhaps I could be enticed into giving it a go. I can imagine a scenario…

I have purchased Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy in lovely hardcover volumes. They come in a limited edition, collectable slipcase, which also contains a medallion of the Magicians’ Guild logo with an engraved code. I hop online, enter my code and download my digital copy of the trilogy. I load it up onto my mobile phone. I then proceed to read the lovely hardcovers. But then I get stuck on a train that has broken down between stations… and I finish the first book… and I don’t have the next one with me… oh wait… I whip out my phone and begin to read book two.

But am I going to go out and specifically puchase an eBook copy of every dead-tree book I buy, on the off chance that I’ll need it in an emergency? I don’t think so.

So, under what other circumstances could I be enticed over to the digital side?

If I was to go back to study (and I do occasionally toy with the idea of a PhD), I think that I would use eBooks. The idea of heading off to Uni with just an iPad, rather than a bagful of books is rather appealing. As is the ability to search reference books. Yes, if I were a student I would definitely use eBooks.

What else?

Sometimes, my wife and I talk about our retirement — about a not-too-distant future, after we’ve kicked the kids out and earned enough money to do some extensive travelling. We talk about selling our house, downsizing to a small apartment, and heading off to explore the world in six-month long expeditions. And if this were ever to come true, I think I’d much rather pack an eBook reader than a suitcase full of books that I’d have to carry from one country to the next.

But, until the world travel or the return to study begins, or until dead-tree books come with a digital copy enclosed… I’ll stick with the good, old-fashioned dead-tree books.

Readers of eBooks, feel free to hurl abuse at me in the comments section below. 🙂

Oh, and check out this really good blog post about eBooks from Melbourne author Narrelle M Harris — I don’t love books! (I love stories.)

Catch ya later,  George

PS. Follow me on Twitter… you know, if there was a dead-tree version of Twitter, I’d be using it! 😉

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George Ivanoff

LITERARY CLUTTER: Bookish bloggings from the cluttered mind and bookshelf of Melbourne author, George Ivanoff. George is the author of the YOU CHOOSE books, the OTHER WORLDS series, the RFDS Adventures and the GAMERS trilogy.

8 thoughts on “In defence of eBooks”

  1. Good thoughts. I have a half dozen ebooks, but I’ve only finished one (and that was nonfiction for research). I find them hard to focus on for a length of time.

    For me, a book is an artifact. There’s something about the feel of the paper, the thought and execution of the artwork and cover… I can’t see myself ever giving up paper books.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Pete. I’m afraid I don’t even own an eBook reader… no Kindle, no iPad… I don’t even have a smart phone. Although given that my current ancient phone is on death’s door, I shall be soon getting an iPhone. So I suppose I could put eBooks onto it, but I don’t feel inclined. So it’s paper books for me. And even if I do go down the digital road eventually for the reasons outline in my post, I would still buy paper books as well. I don’t think I could ever give up on them.

  3. I always thought I’d despise reading on a kindle or iPad rather than holding a physical book in my hands. Turns out I was wrong. In fact, I am now disappointed when I want to purchase a book and find there is no ebook option.

    What turned me around?

    Simple. I ran out of shelf space. My bookshelves are already stacked two deep, with volumes crammed in horizontally atop their traditionally vertical counterparts. I’ve added three extra shelf units to the original corner-piece, and I have no more wall space available. Every time I buy a paper book I am stuck with the problem of where to put it.

    Another reason for my to love my kindle is that I’m about to travel for six weeks straight. I have a paper book to read on the plane, but once that is done it will be ebooks all the way. And they add nothing to mu luggage weight limit. (Unlike the last long holiday I took, where I lugged several kilograms of paper around with me everywhere I went.)

    I think Narrelle hit the nail on the head in her post about stories versus books. When I’m reading, I find that I don’t even think about the medium. Oh, when I pick up that hardcover edition of The Historian I might enjoy the tactile sensation for a few moments. But as soon as I’m reading I am swept away in the narrative, and I would be hard pressed to tell you whether I’m reading on an iPad, a kindle, or a paperback.

    Both forms have virtues. Both forms have problems. And both have their place.

  4. Yes I also love the feel of a real book. I have a list of hard cover collections i am saving up for and have a library so many of my friends are jealous of.
    Despite that I have also found ebooks amazingly useful.

    As someone who’s closest bookstore is over an hour away and with a postal service which seems to be completely unreliable, I use ebooks all the time.

    I have bought my fav books as ebooks so I can read them any time and find I have read three times the books I would normally read since I bought my iPhone.

    I say if it’s something which gets people reading more it must be a good thing!

  5. Ah yes, Zelani, shelf space. We have a library in our house, so we’re doing okay for the time being. But yes, I can see it becoming a problem eventually… especially when we downsize in retirement. I guess I’ll have no option but to go digital.

  6. Robyn, I can certainly see the benefits for you. I’m lucky enough to live near several good bookstores, although I now get most of my books online from the lovely people at Boomerang (plug, plug).

  7. Didn’t have an eBook reader until I discovered my smart phone had one built in and that I could get a few free books to try it out. Got Alice and Importance of Being Ernest. I read them without any real issues. It is definately one of those, I am glad I got to try it first. The only problem was screen size, each page was read in seconds, so constantly flipping pages. That has made me look at getting a tablet.

  8. Well, Medge, I’ll be getting a smart phone before the end of the year… so maybe I’ll give it a go.

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