The most compelling reasons to get an ebook

The days of reading books on the pressed remains of dead trees are coming to an end. The quaint notion that there’s something special about holding a physical book that contains the one novel over a virtual library that fits in your hand may have some nostalgic value, but the inexorable march of technology and improved e-reader gadgetry is making it harder to disregard the paperbacks comparative inconvenience. This level of advancement hasn’t been seen since papyrus scrolls replaced stone carvings. The convenience of thousands of scrolls fitting inside a stone structure rather than the writing being on the stone structure seems obvious now, but back then you definitely knew that reading something carved into stone meant that whoever wrote it must have thought it was important enough for them to spend a year carving it.

There are still some reasons beyond nostalgia for choosing paper over electronics. For one it’s almost impossible to make yourself look important and smart in your library decked out in your finest smoking jacket with a snifter of brandy, sitting in front of row upon row of mahogany shelves empty except for 7, 16 GB memory cards.

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This is offset by the positives of e-books such as the steady decline and eventual destruction of second hand bookshops, where they never have the books you like anyway, smell like an old man’s yeast infection and 80% of the books have disconcerting brown and yellow stains.

With e-books you will no longer have to endure any shame from reading young adult or children’s novels in public, or try to hide the book cover in paper bags like a literary wino, because all other people will be able to see is your fancy new gadget, and if you choose to put a unicorn sticker on it, then there was really no helping you in the first place.

With an e-book no one can ask you what 3 books you would want to have with you on a deserted island, because they would instead have to ask you what 3000 books you would you want, something which not even the most hardcore of bibliophiles will be willing to wait around to hear.

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The biggest problem with e-books is piracy. If you want to steal a paper book, you have to have the bold confidence to go into a bookshop, take it off the shelf, stick it down the front of your pants and casually walk out with a bulging rectangular crotch, something only the most hardcore of readers is willing to do. With e-books like all digital media, all the theft is carried out online; and it’s not just the cagey nogoodniks who get in on the act. It’s granddads, soccer mums, even toddlers who know how to torrent and want to find out if everyone does indeed poop.

So e-books have their place and will rightfully continue to overtake paper books as the format of choice in the next few years. However there’s another type of book that has no redeeming features and may spell the eventual destruction of all mankind. The Audio book.

What do you do when you’re listening to an audio book – just stare at a wall? Stare at your partner disconcertingly? Read another book while you listen? Not to mention it takes longer for someone to read a book out loud. Their main touted advantage is for use in situations when you can’t read a book- like driving a car, surely that’s a convenient way to consume books for the time poor amongst us? But books are supposed to take you into other worlds, the worlds of imagination. I don’t know if I particularly want to be sharing a round-about with someone who just found out that Dumbledore died.

So sure, e-books are hard to read after an author signing, Where’s Wally books looks terrible and if they fall apart it’s a lot harder to put them back together with sticky tape, but until they develop knowledge implants, it’s the best way to read a book we’ve got.

Kobo Australia