eBooks or Books. Personal Preference or Objectively answerable?

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The pleasures of reading are foreign to none with reading being ranked as one of the most “de-stressful” activities out there. There’s also the aspect of knowledge and learning that is essential to the idea of reading. Bill Gates often wakes up tired in the morning because he spends nights reading books. And while I don’t recommend that you lose sleep over a book, it just goes to show you that reading is an excellent habit to have.

Face: Awesome people read. A lot.

So since the “why” aspect of the question is out of the way, let’s answer the “how” aspect of it. How to read? More specifically, what medium do you choose? Old school print or new-age pixel?

After their arrival to the market a few years ago, EBooks seemed to have taken the world by storm. High sales, unrivaled convenience and a won moral debate. But ever since then, the tides have shifted back in favor of the tattered old pages. E-reader sales have plummeted and the convenience of eBooks never seemed convincing in the long run. EBooks lost the moral debate as well. Naomi S. Baron on her article in the Washington Post suggested the resources that are required to produce and maintain an EReader are not only rare, they are toxic. Besides, trees are a renewable source as opposed to the metals that are required to build Tablets/Ereaders.

eye strain ebooks

Eye-strain was, and still is, a major issue with e-readers. We look at screens practically all the time anyway. Another issue was the aspect of distraction. Devices that read eBooks open apps too. So, it becomes much easier for the reader to take a hiatus from his intellectual venture only to pretend that he’s going to return. And even if he does, the occasional detours affect information retention and memory. I personally never felt the need to check my news feed while I was reading an eBook, and so I don’t see this as a big turning point given that the book you are reading is interesting enough.

Perhaps, the place where eBooks fall farthest behind printed books is the “feel” sector. Take #bookstagram, for instance. I found out about it through a Guardian article I was reading. It’s a place where Instagram users, who may or may not be bookworms, take to Instagram to share their love for books, both as books and as articles of beauty. The sensation of turning a page is unique to a book regardless of how good the software animations may be. No device will ever be able to replicate the smell of a book, new or old. And I would pick the slight, yet ever-present friction of my fingers running across the pages over even the most responsive of touch screens.

ebooks vs books

But this isn’t to say that eBooks don’t have their selling points. In fact, I am reading an eBook right now (which is also why I have a headache).  EBooks shine when I have to come to terms with the fact that the library just doesn’t have the books I am looking for. As someone who has a tablet lying around, and someone who happens to like books that aren’t locally available, I still do have a place for eBooks. But, if I had the option to choose, I would go old-school every single time.

The book I was talking about is called “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande.

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