In print

Ebooks will always lose to the old-fashioned print book

Aranda Adams

You could say I’m a book snob.

Over the summer, I tried hard to keep from reading the series of books no one could stop talking about - The Hunger Games.

I ignored all the advice everyone was giving me: “No, really, you should read it. You’ll be surprised.”

I walked past the books at Chapters all the time and wrinkled my nose.

“Ugh, YA (Young Adult) novels. Those are for teenagers.”

Then one fateful night, I caved.

I was at work and a copy of the book was lying around. I had a long overnight shift ahead of me, so I reluctantly cracked it open and immediately got sucked in.

By morning, I was a quarter of the way through the second book in the series when I realized everyone was right - it was an entertaining read.

I’m snobby because I’m incredibly picky about the fiction I read and I have never been too fond of 21st century literature.

However, one of the biggest things I’m a snob about is the actual type of book itself.

I like hardcover books over paperbacks. I love brand new, stiff-spine-never-been-cracked books. I enjoy tangible, hold-in-your-hands paper books so much so that when Amazon came out with the Kindle, I scoffed. When Chapters’s Kobo was lauded, I laughed.

“Who wants to read a book on a tablet?” I shook my head. “Look what the world is coming to.”

Yet the ebook is just one of those things that you can’t escape in our day and age.

You see people happily reading their copy of Fifty Shades of Gray on their Kobo on the morning bus to work.

Med students download copies of their anatomy textbooks to their Kindle or iPad and don’t have to lug around three pounds of paper.

The ebook age has made reading easy and accessible anywhere.

However, I’m stuck in the middle ages.

I still carry my textbooks around and crush them in my bag, and spill coffee all over them, marring their pristine, just-bought beauty.

I battle with myself all the time, feeling shame and guilt for the battering my books get on a daily basis.

Then the other day I got an email from Chapters, advertising their newest version of the Kobo - the Kobo Mini. This little baby is pocket sized, making it “the world’s smallest and lightest full-featured eReader.” It’s got access to Wi-Fi and you can get your hands on “one-million free ebooks.”

People like me will still want bookshelves full of hardcover novels and ornately designed textbooks because books are beautiful.

“One-million books are more than I’ll ever read in my lifetime,” I sneered.

But then it struck me.

You can spill coffee on it and the pages won’t yellow or ripple.

My heart pumped a little faster.

I wasn’t expecting to warm up to the idea of an e-reader, just like I wasn’t expecting to warm up to idea of reading young adult novels.

But when I stopped to think about it, I came to see that the ebook has advantages over the classic printed novel. Yet, despite those advantages, I don’t believe it will ever defeat the tangible, printed book’s reign.

Why would the ebook lose to the old-school book?

Because people like me will still want bookshelves full of hardcover novels and ornately designed textbooks because books are beautiful.

No one is going to build a computer room to display their Kindle books. With a Kindle, you can’t show off your copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War in all its shiny, red fabric glory.

That’s just sad.

Although I’ve undergone a bit of a change of perspective on ebooks and e-readers, I can’t say I’ve had a change of heart overall.

I love ordering a cardboard box of books from Amazon and ripping off the packing tape to see my printed copies of Stephen King’s latest works nestled inside.

I believe the books you read tell people who you are. I want to share and display my tastes with the world and not over social media.

So, the book snob lives on.

Erika Miller is a first-year student in Creative Communications at Red River College.

Published in Volume 67, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 26, 2012)

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