Printed Books & eBooks: Happy Together
In Josh Catone’s article, “Why Printed Books Will Never Die,” a case is made for the books we grew up reading. Whether you’re a fan of historical fiction, sci-fi, or memoirs, you likely remember the joy of opening a brand-new book and the treasure hunt that is a Saturday morning spent at the library.
But alas, the tide is changing. The tactile pleasure of turning pages is not gone, but the change to eBooks has been swift. In 2012, U.S. adult fiction eBooks generated nearly $2 billion in revenue. Sales of eBooks have risen 4,660% since the idea started to take hold in 2008.
Don’t expect lovers of physical books to give up easily. People who love to read, love to read, and many of them find the transition to eBooks at best uncomfortable and at worst, an unacceptable modernization of a favorite hobby. Can book lovers and eBook lovers live together in harmony?
How do we love books, and why? Let us count the ways, as shown in Catone’s article.
- Books are beautiful.
eBooks are snazzy in their own right, but the art of book covers, designed to draw you in and compel you to take a peek inside, are stunning. Many eBook readers move right past the cover to the reviews, the download statistics, and the text itself. But a beautiful book at your bedside stays with you. There’s something sacred about having a story presented to you with care and craftsmanship. When you compare that rich experience to swiping to the next page of a digital copy, on the device you spend all day using, on a screen that looks empty and cold, eBooks start to feel cookie-cutter, even if the content is fascinating.
- Your memory of your books tells the story of your life.
Do you ever look at your bookshelf and think back to what was happening in your life when you read a favorite book? Isn’t that an interesting emotional journey? Readers have deep, personal relationships with books—the items as much as the stories—in a way that eBooks haven’t matched. Seeing a title in your eBook list is not the same as glimpsing a printed book and remembering all that the story entailed as part of your personal narrative.
- Printed books are collectible.
A feeling of ownership is important to some readers, and with eBooks, there’s always a caveat. You do—and you don’t—own electronic copies. What you buy is access, which doesn’t feel the same as having a physical book you can touch and admire and display in your home. This is especially true of high-quality hardcover books. Perhaps people will continue to buy eBooks for convenience, but also purchase a hardbound book for safe keeping.
- Books are nostalgic.
What will your book collection look like in the future? Possibly, more carefully chosen. Digital readers will likely still own books and display them in bookshelves, but only the volumes they really want to show off, as they would a favorite painting or framed photos. The rest will live on a device. Besides which, reading a book and consuming a eBook are distinct experiences, just as watching the movie “Chicago” and seeing the musical performed live are not the same.
In some ways, like search and interactive content, eBooks are superior. Their sales numbers reflect a shift in our modern consumption of content. Nevertheless, the rise of one form must not necessarily replace the other. Some people love printed books; some love eBooks. Can’t we all just get along?
We can. For my part, I’ll be looking for built-in bookshelves in my next home, and not just for my favorites that don’t live on my phone or tablet. But I have started listening to audio books to make my commute more enjoyable. I don’t see a conflict here; printed books, eBooks, audio books, and whatever-the-next-big-thing-happens-to-be can all find a place in the modern world.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that blended learning, Omnipress’ print and online CE training solution, offers the best of both worlds. Consume content however you learn best. With Omnipress, your learners have a choice.
What do you think? Do you like to read books? eBooks? Have you changed your reading habits since eBooks came on the scene? We’d love to hear from you!