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Tradition VS Convenience: Should Printed Books Be Left In The Past?

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

– Stephen King

I chose this concept because it occurred to me that there may be people who have never read a physical book. There may be humans walking the planet as we speak, who have exclusively read e-books. That thought was a scary one for me to mull over but in doing so, I have come to a few realisations with regards to the debate of e-books Vs print books.

I do have a certain level of understanding with those of us who prefer to read e-books rather than a traditional printed hard-copy. It is an interesting debate and I would like to use this platform to give my 2 pence. It is especially interesting when you consider the quote by Stephen King I chose. Maybe it should be “(e)Books are a uniquely portable magic” I will come back to this quote analysis a little later on in the post.

Quick History Lesson

Historians largely agree that it was an ancient group of people who inhabited Mesopotamia (historical region of Western Asia) who first attempted to transcribe symbols onto mobile mediums such as stone around 3500 BC.

Example of early transcription

It wasn’t until around 105 AD that paper began to become favourable, this time period is sometimes referred to as “The Paper Revolution”. Moreover recent archaeological reports claiming to have discovered paper dated 8 BC, as well as the fact paper had been used in China from as early as 200 BC for wrapping and padding.

Books as we know them today have come a long way from symbols transcribed on clay or stone. But when was the first book printed? Though it was Johannes Gutenberg who first mass produced printed work (the Gutenberg Bible) printed books actually existed nearly 600 years before. The printing press has its origins in Asia centuries before the technology reached the West.

What Is An E-book?

According to Google an e-book is “an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a computer or a specifically designed handheld device.”

I remember the first time I saw a Kindle being advertised on the TV. The possibilities seemed endless. You can fit hundreds of books on one single device, which is so convenient for long-haul flights, busses, tubes and trains.

Have you ever borrowed a book from your mum, only to find the font is so small you can hardly read it without your eyes burning in their sockets? Well you can customise font and size on an e-reader such as a Kindle. If you don’t have enough room for eight bookcases in your home, you need not worry.

I get it. I really do. But…

Printed Books Are Better

Of course, this is just my personal opinion. As I said before, e-books are way more convenient, easier, quicker and maybe even more affordable. I myself have read a few e-books, mainly when I have just finished an amazing novel and I need something else in a hurry ;to fill the emptiness you feel once the last page has been read. Let me explain.

There are many things I love about books. The characters I meet and watch grow, the emotion it evokes from me and of course the feeling of reading a book with a satisfying ending – or perhaps a satisfyingly dissatisfying ending. But I also love the physical feeling of holding a book and turning its pages. The smell of the pages, the creases in the paper and even the weight of it. The fact we can physically hold a universe in our hands, or the life story of a WWI soldier is what makes me prefer printed books to e-books. To me, it increases its authenticity. Perhaps this is due to the fact I am a creature of habit. Or it could even be because when I see a book I loved reading as a child on my bookcase at home, it takes me back if only for a second.

Another compelling argument for e-books is the fact they are instant. You can find and read new titles almost instantly at anytime. You could be on a bus and feel like reading, but you didn’t anticipate this that morning. An e-reader gives you the freedom to read wherever you are. I myself have downloaded the Kindle app to buy books when the feeling arises. However, I remember during secondary school, I had the most ridiculously small bag, couldn’t fit a thing in it. Once I got back into reading again, I took into account that I needed space for all of my school books, as well as fiction books. Thus, get a bigger bag!

Stephen King Was Right

Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

E-books are still books, the words are the same, the story is the same and the characters are the same. The only difference is the way in which we consume the same product. It depends heavily on who you are, what you prefer and why you like to read in the first place. For me, reading physical books is an experience from reading dozens upon dozens of blurbs in the bookshop, to buying;it all the way up until I place it on my bookcase.

Everyone experiences reading in their own subjective way. Whether you read a story in a book or on a screen, even if you read a story written on the toilet door of a pub loo; there is magic in those words. That story came from somebodies heart, mind and soul. There is power in imagination, creativity serves us all. Consume it however you like!

To Answer My Own Question

No, printed books should not be left in the past. But that’s not to say we shouldn’t embrace and take advantage of the convenience of e-books either. At the end of the day they both allow us to enter other worlds and escape for a little while.

Also, does anybody else just love staring at their bookshelves? Reorganising and rediscovering stories as you proudly dust their resting place? Especially the books you have been given by others or the ones you find in a charity shop. I find myself wondering who may have enjoyed this story before I did; or perhaps who disliked it and decided to give it away. It makes printed books just that little bit more special to me.

Daily Reading Recommendation

“Never tell a lie when you can tell the truth. The truth isn’t always the safest course, but mostly it is.”

– Stephen King

Since we are already talking about Stephen King, why don’t you have a look at this if you haven’t already? I ordered this after reading ‘The Outsider’ by Stephen King, of which I realised only once I finished it; is a spin off from the Bill Hodges trilogy. I wondered why I didn’t connect with the main character like I thought I would. ‘Mr Mercedes’ is the first book in the trilogy and it is an amazing read.

It is a tightly plotted crime novel that still manages to retain the unmistakable Stephen King flavour he has become known for. It is without a doubt a novel of character and great depth. I managed to finish it in one sitting so if you choose to give it a go, get comfortable and don’t worry about that bookmark!

I hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to comment what you think.


Jen x

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