Monday, September 10, 2012
I have never been a fan of ebook readers, ever since their conception. I’ve always been a lover of that old, musky smell of a well used bookshop, and the rich scent that floats out of a brand new book when you first open the pages. I enjoy folding the corners of my pages (something which is debated in itself) to bookmark where I’m up to, and having bookshelf after bookshelf crammed with creased, but colourful, spines. There’s just something special about having a tangible piece of literature sitting in your hands – and there’s just something disappointing about seeing text on a screen in comparison.
When I first came across ebooks, it wasn’t how you would imagine. I hadn’t been given a Kindle for my birthday, and I didn’t get one thrusted upon me by a friend who wanted to convert me. No, I came across ebooks completely separate from ebook readers. I was researching a period in Ancient Chinese history called the Three Kingdoms era, and I wanted to read a 14th-century book on the subject called ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’. I didn’t have enough money at the time to buy the book straight away (at four volumes, it can be quite costly), so I decided to find an ebook on the Internet. I eventually did find one, but it was exceptionally laborious to navigate. I had to click a link and wait for loading every time I wanted to ‘turn the page’, and I soon lost patience. A few weeks later, I bought myself a proper copy of the novel, and got to work with my research.
However, eventually I did come across an ebook reader – my grandfather bought himself one for his birthday, and he let me have a play with it. At first I was sceptical: I wondered how you could read books in, for example, the sunshine, when surely the glare would make it impossible? Apparently the reader has settings to prevent that. I wondered whether turning the page would be as difficult as on my computer, but again I was countered by the reader’s simple touch screen ‘flick’ system that allows you turn the page effortlessly. Suddenly, my research looked like it could have been a lot simpler, and it made me consider a reader for my next book, ‘I, Alex Cross’, by James Patterson.
But the appeal of an actual book was still too strong to convert me. I think that will always be the case. I can, however, see the appeal of an ebook reader. Although they may not possess the same aesthetic qualities that a book does, they are immensely practical for travelling away from your bookshelf – you can take your entire book collection with you, in one lightweight system, or even download new books, like the ‘Jack Reacher Series’, without having to check if it’s in stock. So, I think I am torn. I do love the qualities that an old fashioned book has, but I understand the qualities of a reader. Perhaps then we should stop worrying about ebooks taking over, and realise that they are designed to co-exist with each other.
Article by Scott Clawson