E-Books or Hardbacks?

I’ve seen a lot of talk about preferences for psychical copies versus e-editions. I thought I’d ring in on the topic. I like both. But before I discuss why I’d like to refer you to this article I found on Voxburner, which lists 5 reasons why “young people” aren’t buying e-books.

  1. E-books should be cheaper than hardbacks.
  2. You can’t feel them.
  3. They don’t have an e-reader.
  4. E-books do nothing for status.
  5. They hate being enslaved by technology.

So there’s all five of them. I’ll just start with the first one and work my way down to my own reasons.

E-books should be cheaper than hardbacks.

True and false. Part of the reason books cost so much is because of the printing process. Smaller book, smaller price and vice versa. But a lot of work still went into that book. Some works took years to complete. I understand that having an ebook edition feels like it should be cheaper, and personally I would love if all books were between $1-$2 but that’s the equivalent of saying that someone’s life’s work is only worth $1-$2.

I will agree that the e-edition should cost less, however. And that is mostly due to the fact that nothing is being printed. No resources are being used. Nothing is being shipped. How some companies can justify $50 for an e-book is beyond me.

You can’t feel the book.

You can’t smell it either. Now that is a great sensation: buying a brand new book, taking it home, opening it up to hear that spine crack from being moved for the first time ever, and that musty new book smell. Oh, it just so good.

But you know what else is good? Having all of my books with me at no extra weight to my back. As an English major, I often read 30 books a semester. Imagine carrying around 4 Norton Anthologies (or any large, very heavy anthology) all day just to read one or two stories from it. Having an e-reader allowed me to have access to all the books I needed. Which was especially great when we switched books in the middle of class. I was always prepared.

But outside of school it’s wonderful too. I have all of my books. Always. I only have to worry about my battery running out. Just like I only have to worry about running out of light when reading a normal book.

I heard a great quote which pretty much said that people who argue for real books over e-books are just confusing the plate for the food. Which is absolutely true. Which is more important? The story/information or the way it feels in your hand?

They don’t have an e-reader.

Pretty sure this is self explanatory. Why buy an e-book if you don’t have an e-reader. BUT WAIT! LO, WHAT IS THAT ON THE HORIZON? Free Kindle app for your phone and computer? OH LOOK THERE! Free Nook app for your computer? What is this world coming too when companies will allow you to have software for free?

E-books do nothing for status.

I think this is the real issue. People like to show off what they’re reading. They like to read the hottest book and be seen reading the hottest book.

I will confess to enjoying this. Especially when it’s a hot book. When the Harry Potter books were released I loved going to the midnight releases and coming into school the next day with the book that my fellow students wouldn’t be getting until that night. Or sometimes that weekend.

But I also enjoy having my privacy with what I’m reading. Isn’t it enough just to let the world know that you are a reader?

They hate being enslaved by technology.

Is an e-reader really enslaving you? I mean… you’re reading. Not playing a game or posting on Facebook or Twitter (although you can if you’re a very social reader and want to share all your favorite lines).

How I feel…

I like them both. I do in fact love having a book in my hands and showing off to strangers that I’m reading a book they don’t have yet, but I also love having all of my books with me. If I really want to show off I can just talk about all the books I’ve read. It’s silly–really silly— to have a preference for either one since the important thing is that people are reading.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.