My son loves the book fair.

I can’t blame him. A certain high comes when you’re surrounded by book upon book. Even the accessories, the pens, paper, pencils, erasers in all shapes and sizes, all these contribute to the excitement.

I think it’s the possibilities of what could happen that gives such a thrill. In those books are stories, all sorts. Stories of thrills, chills, villains, and heroes. Anything can happen when you open a new book. You don’t know what’s under that cover, what’s behind the next page. The adventure you are about to go on beckons you to enter into the story, use your imagination, and be enthralled.

These days, books come in different shapes and sizes, and different formats. Books can be the classic physical paper book (either hardback or paperback) or electronic e-book. Some people claim that nothing is like a paper book, the smell, the feel, the tangible page. Other people prefer the ebook, lightweight, readable at night, easy to carry. This is a debate among my friends, so I thought I would take some time and see which one actually is better.

Paper books

Paper books are classic. They’ve been around for thousands of years. There are historic, handwritten books that scribes used to copy over and over. Then there was the revolution of the printing press. Ever since we’ve had physical books in one form or another distributed for people to read. I’ll admit, there’s something special about holding a book. Let’s look at the pros of physical books.

  • Tangible: you can actually hold the book in your hands.
  • Writable: you can write in the book if you want to.
  • Collectible: you can build an impressive library to show off to your friends.
  • The smell: a new book is almost intoxicating for a book lover.
  • Long lasting: as long as you care for the book it can last for generations.

People love paper books with good reason. But there are drawbacks

  • Bulky: the more pages a book has the more space the book takes up.
  • Not easy to carry: if you want to carry more than one book you better have a good backpack.
  • Costly: paper books cost more money especially for hardbacks.
  • Damageable: toddlers, dogs, water and more can easily ruin a book.
  • Space: the more books you have the more bookshelves you need.

E-Books

Electronic books are relatively new in the history of literature, but their popularity has taken off. Every major bookseller has an e-book inventory. Even the library offers e-book checkouts. E-books have great things about them.

  • Cost: e-books are usually cheaper than a paper book.
  • Easy to carry: an ebook is as easy to carry as the device you’re reading it on is.
  • Backups: if you’re reading device gets ruined, you still have all your books saved.
  • Night reading: With backlit devices, you have more hours in a day to consume your book.
  • Choices: you can carry hundreds if not thousands of books all at once.

As fantastic as e-books are, some cons to reading in a digital format exist.

  • Availability: not every book is available in e-book format.
  • Nothing to hold: the tangibility and experience of a book that is missing.
  • Need an e-reader: you are dependent on technology to read your book.
  • Proprietary: different companies use unique formats for the same titles.
  • Secret: you can’t show off your personal library or loan a book out.Just Read

The debate rages on. Some people insist that paper books are the way to own a real book. E-book proponents say digital is just as good. Personal… I don’t care. I have ebooks and paper books. I enjoy how easy the ebook is to use and carry, but still, love the experience of a paper book.

I think the point should be not about how you read but that you read. Reading is good for the mind and the heart. It cultivates our imaginations and fills us with knowledge. Just like my son gets so excited about the book fair, we should keep our excitement about books all throughout our lives.

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