The printed book is a historical icon. Since German monks sat down in drafty stone monasteries and painstakingly recorded each word with quill and ink, books have been the most used medium of communicating thought. Books are substantial, both in heft and financial investment. There is also the feelings holding a book convey, the smell of ink, the crackle of paper, smoothing ones hands over the cover and turning pages to devour a story all heighten the realization that one is holding someone’s life work in hand. Books have substance, as if the printed word has value and meaning. Books are easily recognizable as individual works of art.
The same things, which are heft and financial investment, create drawbacks for purchasing only printed books. It is neither cost effective nor healthy to carry ten or more books, unless one happens to be traveling by super deluxe RV and the cost of gas is insignificant. In order to read a book one needs a source of light. Without daylight of artificial illumination, books are trapped in darkness and may as well contain blank pages.
E-books are a newer technology and require an e-reading device or an application to read them on a tablet, phone or computer. With the dawn of the e-book, and in particular, Amazon Kindle, the door has been blown wide open for never-before published authors to be published. While that is wonderful, it also has its drawbacks. With the ease of publication it is also clear that some writers having chosen e-book publication should have instead taken up crochet. Purchasing an e-book is also a crap shoot. At times reading a small sample or reading the reviews, as on Amazon, is not always helpful in determining if an e-book should be purchased. Samples are sometimes painfully short and reviews are nothing more than opinions. Prices of e-books does not necessarily mean good value nor does low cost mean poor quality. E-books need a consistent source to renew power and some power source using a separate power cord. When the device honks twice and flashes a warning, one had better have his or her power cord and a viable plug-in or reading is cancelled until the device is recharged.
On the other hand e-books have great advantages as well. An e-reading device is small, lightweight, portable and can hold dozens of books and have access to an unlimited amount via the cloud network. As long as one has access to a wireless network the potential for buying books, magazines, games and surfing the internet is unlimited. E-book pricing is usually one half or less of a printed book price. Even traditionally printed authors have taken to publishing e-books as well, so there is no need to miss out on the latest offering of a favorite author. E-book readers, for the most part, include a light source, therefore there is no limit to reading in the darkness of a car, bedroom or under the moonlight.
Printed books are mankind’s history and e-books are the future. One should not replace the other as the only way to communicate thought. There is room for both just as there are advantages and disadvantages for both mediums.