The Never-ending Debate: Paper Books vs. eBooks

I had been reading paper books for over 20 years before giving eBooks a shot. Over the years, I have spent thousands of pounds on books, most of which I only read once, given that my main interest is in fiction. I used to live in a house where there were books everywhere and space to deposit new ones was indeed a problem. At some point, I was forced to “double park” my books on shelves. I spent most of my teenage and young adult years on a continuous quest to find cheap books. I was hunting offers online, spending hours in bookshops that sold used books, not to mention the countless trips to the local library. Carrying a bag full of library books has been a constant over the years. When I moved homes, I suffered in silence thinking of all the books I had left behind in my parents’ house and I was constantly harassing them to bring as many of my beloved books as they could carry whenever they drove over to my new place. My obsession with books was known to everybody and most of the presents I have ever received in my life had pages and covers. Not that I minded. I still cannot imagine living in a house with no books in it. However…

The Christmas of 2010 marked a change in my reading patterns. My boyfriend made me a wonderful surprise in the form of a Kindle. I had of course been very familiar with eBooks, but I only used them for school assignments on an as needed basis. I had never read a proper fiction book on such a device before. The bookworm in me had toyed with the idea of an e-reader before, mostly because I liked how you could store hundreds of books on it and have them available at your fingerprints at all times. So I started reading on my new Kindle and three years later, I find myself addicted to electronic books. This is something I never thought possible, but on the other hand  I hate to feel left behind by technology or any other thing for that matter. Two tablets later, I have finally found the perfect eReader in the form of an iPad mini, which I intend to keep until it falls apart.

This does not mean I  have given up paper books entirely. I still have cravings for paper books, and I satisfy them once in a while. When passing by a bookshop, I still feel the urge to go on a spur of the moment shopping spree. As many other book lovers, I love everything about the books, including their smell and the way they feel in your hands. I am well aware that eBooks are just the same thing, delivering the same stories and ideas in another form. I can read them in any kind of light, I can switch positions as often as I want as no heavy book makes it difficult for me to find a comfortable position. This is important because most of the time I read in bed, so big, heavy hardbacks have always been a source of trouble. I make use of the dictionaries in the iBooks constantly and the last time I read a paper book I tried to double-click a word to check its meaning. Besides these obvious perks, what I probably like most about eBooks is that I can start reading any book crosses my mind in a couple of minutes. No more waiting for the Amazon order to arrive to start reading something I set eyes on last week. This is truly a book lover’s dream, and I’m living it. I still buy paper books, but not fiction anymore. I think that the eBooks cannot be a replacement for art books for instance, so these I’ll continue to buy in paper form forever. I’m pretty sure I’ll have an emotional connection to physical books until the day I die, and I can’t help but wonder if I would have still become such a bookworm in the absence of paper books. I’m pretty sure the answer is no.