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January 9, 2012 / Amy Bradney-George

Why I Won’t Buy eBooks

This week three of my friends have started talking to me about their shiny new eReaders/tablets and the convenience of eBooks. All of them are avid readers and, when I explained that I will not be switching to a screen any time soon, they replied with variations of “I thought the same thing until now”.

While I have no problem with other people using eReaders really (apart from the impact it may have on the publishing industry), you will not see me with one unless I am desperate or all the actual books in the world disappear. I would rather read a textbook on economics than switch to an eReader.

Incomparable: Amazon's Kindle eBook reader vs. books.

“What about when you travel?” one of my friends asked when I expressed this sentiment. Even then I would rather lug a heavy hardcover around than tote a tiny tablet filled with screen-sized pages that can even be made to sound like a proper book. Usually I plan ahead, however, and pick up paperbacks that are enjoyable but not necessarily collectable.

A friend of mine who owned a cafe and used bookstore years ago told me that when she finished with books she didn’t want to keep (or resell) she would leave them somewhere public and hope another person would pick them up to read. I loved this idea and started to leave my travel books at hostels, airports and shopping centres with little notes attached saying things like “I really enjoyed this book but have no room for it in my luggage. Please read it or pass it on to someone you think would like it.”

It’s actually one of my favourite things about reading when I travel. Just like sharing the books I do want to keep is one of my favourite parts of being a reader. I know some eBooks can be shared, and I know if you get them in a format like .pdf they can be given away, but as far as I’m concerned it’s not the same.

The main benefit I can see in getting an eBook is that it is so much cheaper than an actual book (especially in Australia where new releases sometimes cost as much as $40). That won’t stop me from buying or borrowing books though. I love them just like I love magazines and newspapers.

For me, reading is as much about the experience as it is about the words. There is something so much more real and personal about holding a book, smelling the pages (yes I do that) and being able to turn them as you go. If money or a bit of extra weight to my luggage is the price I have to pay for that experience, then it’s more than worth it.

Image: goXunuReviews

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12 Comments

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  1. 144east / Jan 9 2012 6:29 pm

    I agree. I’ve been on the fence about e-readers and the like. I like its convenience, but, like you, I still want reading to be a tangible experience. Even trips to the bookstore or the library to search for the right book are much more fun than looking at an e-reader screen.

  2. adjectivedave / Jan 9 2012 6:35 pm

    In London in some of the train stations (over-ground not tube line) there are waiting rooms (as there probably are at many train stations) and a lot of them have books all around the edge of the room, and it’s a take-a-book-leave-a-book situation.
    I love things like that, especially when there’s a lot of them around, as it means you can take one book away with you, come home with one book and have potentially limitless inbetween!
    In regards to e-readers, I agree with them in theory, and I can appreciate they allow you to own a great many of out copy write classics for free, but I have used them myself and I still prefer the actual feel of the book and the turn of the page.
    Besides that, I wouldn’t buy a kindle and leave it in a train station on purpose!

    • Amy Bradney-George / Jan 10 2012 8:18 pm

      I would almost go to London just to see those waiting rooms, I love that kind of thing as well. In a way it makes the physical book a story as well, like “oh yeah I picked up this one on my way to West End”. You just don’t get that opportunity with an eReader.

  3. Cassie / Jan 9 2012 7:08 pm

    I completely, completely, completely agree. I moved to Australia for 6 months last year and I took an e-reader with me thinking it would be easier to function with my pile of books all in one place, and yet there I was….spending every other afternoon at the public library in my new city. It was a wonderful place to meet interesting Australians, read books from librarian recommendations about the Australian culture and just have a sweet afternoon to myself. I really haven’t read anything on my e-reader since this trip and I just can’t get into it.

    • Amy Bradney-George / Jan 10 2012 8:24 pm

      Where were you in Australia Cassie? I think the libraries vary a fair bit but the one in Melbourne (where I currently live) often has music recitals and art exhibitions and I know the one in Brisbane has a lot of art-based forums, which I think really adds to the experience.

      I haven’t had many conversations with the other Melbourne library-goers yet but when I was in Canada and America I found people were much more willing to start a conversation when I had a book out as opposed to when I had my computer or phone out.

  4. ligtwashere / Jan 9 2012 7:18 pm

    Yes, I understand you. E-books are not like real books. They are not as attractvie as real ones. (I smell pages too. 🙂 This is a good reason to read lot also.)

  5. ameliaclaire92 / Jan 9 2012 7:56 pm

    I agree that reading is so much about the experience, and I’ll never switch to an eReader. I get so much joy out of the simple act of holding a book and turning its pages.

  6. Bookish Hobbit / Jan 9 2012 8:06 pm

    When I was interested in buying e-books for my new e-reader, it seemed like there wasn’t that great a difference between the price of the physical book and the electronic copy. It could have changed since I last looked, or perhaps it was the particular books I was interested in that possessed such a slim difference.

    Classics seem to be the only thing residing inside my e-reader, but my favorites like Jane Eyre still take up space on my bookshelves because there are times I need the book in my hands… and I’m a sucker for pretty editions on the shelf.

    • Amy Bradney-George / Jan 10 2012 8:29 pm

      The adage “never judge a book by it’s cover” doesn’t hold true for me either – I’m a sucker for the pretty editions too.

      In regards to the prices for eBooks (or ebooks or e-books, not sure what is standard but I’m trying to be consistent), I have seen the cost as much as halved for best-sellers in Australia. But I think it depends on the kind of reader you have and where you buy the books/eBooks.

      Regardless, I am really happy that there are other people around who still like actual books more – I thought we were few and far between for a while there.

  7. Annie T / Mar 31 2012 7:46 pm

    I love really books and will go out of my way to buy them, however, e-readers are great when it comes to the 30/40 or 50 journal articles that you need to access for one assignment on a topic that you will never write about again…saves several reams of paper and quite a few trees.

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