It’s funny, the world we live in today. When I talk about books, I have to specify the ‘type’ of the book to prevent misunderstandings. For the greater part of human history, when someone mentioned books, everyone knew what it was. That is not the case today. Hence the usage physical book or book book to differentiate them from e-books.
In September 2017, I purchased Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I’d been eyeing that book for the better part of six months and the Kindle version was way cheaper than I’d imagined. So I immediately snagged a copy, in as much you can snag a digital copy of a book.
And there it has been, lying untouched until earlier this week. In the intervening time-period, I’ve read about half a dozen books. Thinking about the book and why I had ignored it for so long reinforced the point that I do not particularly like e-books. I prefer book books. What’s more interesting is that I had known this since April of 2016, when I read my first e-book and concluded that I preferred tangible copies.
So did I read Sapiens after I bought it? Yes, I made it about 15% of the way, and I even felt confident enough about it to mention it in a post last year. In an effort to read more books, faster, I had started reading them simultaneously. Reading became another aspect of my life that had to be optimized to increase efficiency. Soon, it dawned on me that reading 4 books at the same time wasn’t exactly my forte, especially when all 4 are e-books. So I gave up on Sapiens and there it has been, in limbo, since then. I reverted to buying physical books, despite the obvious downfalls.
So even though physical copies cost more, took time to be delivered, and made me feel guilty about the environment, I keep buying more of them. Call me what you will, but I am of the opinion that nothing matches the feel of a book in your hand. In fact, 6 of 9 books that I read last year were physical books. Sure, they are dead trees and now is not the time to be going around felling trees. But I’ve found that cognition is often better when I’m reading a physical book than with a e-book.
Not only does having a book in hand get me in the right mood to read, but because they are tangible, I am often more engrossed and remember details in a more vivid fashion. The reading experience on the Kindle is top-notch, for sure, but reading a book in Kindle feels like reading articles or news on your mobile device. You feel like scrolling through absent-mindedly. There is the pull of the plot, but the effect it has on you is watered down.
When I pick up a good book, I find it hard to put it down. But with *e-books*, I find it very easy to turn it off and do something else.
I realize that I could be alone in this and nobody else feels this way about books, physical or otherwise. But when you’re reading to absorb in new thoughts – be they real or fictional – it makes sense to do so in a way that leaves a permanent mark in your mind. E-books don’t do that for me. That being said, the ability to carry hundreds of books in the palm of my hand is a privilege I will be eternally grateful for.
So, I started this post with Sapiens and you might be wondering what’s happened to it. Being the person that I am – the one to run away from problems – I’ve actively ignored my Kindle collection and focussed solely on physical books. I was nearly 30 pages into Stephen King’s It when I made the decision. I would start reading Sapiens – from the beginning. I told myself I’d keep all other books on hold, till I had cleared my Kindle collection. Though I haven’t been reading e-books since September, my collection has been growing, to say the least. So for the foreseeable future, I’ll be playing catchup with my e-books before I get back to my physical ones.
Given that I am reading on my Kindle, progress on Sapiens is slow because my precious eyes get tired soon. But this time around, I’m paying extra attention to really get all the details into my head. Also, I can’t wait to get back to the warm and crispy pages of King’s book, scary as it might be. But I guess I can’t complain since I brought this upon myself. 😉
So that’s the rundown of my love-hate relation with Kindles and e-books. What do you prefer – book books or e-books? Why? I’m sure most of you will have similar thoughts to share, so why not share them in the comments below?