This is a persuasive essay about the benefits of books over electronic books
| Printed Text vs Electronic Text
Comparing Books against Electronic Books
Ten years ago the only decision people had to make when purchasing a book was if they wanted one in hardback or paperback. Today, a book can be downloaded onto a computer, cell phone, or an electronic tablet. I have an extensive library in hard bound books, paper bound books, and electronic form, but I prefer hard copy books over electronic books. Bound books stand the test of time, but when placed on an electronic device they lose their value and will not last.
Old fashioned books have more character than an electronic device that stores books. Books develop character and style with time. The pages and the binding tell a story that an electronic image cannot portray. The book as a whole creates many sensations. The thickness and texture of the paper contacts my hands as they glide across each page while tracing each sentence one by one. The edges of the pages are different for each book; some are rough and jagged, while others are sleek and lined in silver or gold. Each style of page causes a different visual and tactile sensation for the reader to help enjoy a bound book that much more.
An electronic book cannot portray the feel of a leather bound collector’s edition or a first print 200-year-old edition. Leather bound editions start the reading experience from the time you pick the book up. The grain of the leather can be soft and slightly textured or sleek and fine. Are the embossed letters raised or indented? Letters can be done in gold, silver, or fine inks, each bringing the book to life in your hands. All of the senses are brought into the picture. Just holding the book is an experience an electronic device cannot recreate.
Any bound book in a store brings all of my senses alive when I pick the book up. The texture of the cover even in a paper bound book may be embossed with raised letters. The sight of the pictures pulls me into part of the story and makes me want to find out more about the story. The scent of the pages and ink opens my mind a little more to the information I have in my hands. All of these items are totally lost when I click on an icon and the book opens. All electronic books do not have texture or scents. The pictures are not embossed, and the pages are a slick screen. Physical connections to reading material cannot be recreated with an electronic device of any type.
A library of bounded books can be heavy and cumbersome. In an electronic age this can be a drawback. In a digital world everything must be at the click of a button or touch of an icon. At the same time, the ease of clicking on the picture takes away from the personality a book can have. The digital screen feels the same way every time you touch it. The screen does not care if you are playing a game, reading a book, or answering a phone call. The screen is just glass and electricity. Plus, if I scratch the glass screen I will have a scratch in the same place on every page of every book I have stored in the device.
Paper does not require a battery, and the pages do not lose power if stared at too long. A book does require an external light source so it can be read. An electronic book has the light source built in, but it will only last as long as the battery of the device. The light source can cause interference with natural light, too. Today there are book lights that last far longer than any smart device’s battery and cost a lot less than the handheld device.
If I want to read anything on paper outside, it is not a problem. The sunlight can be very beneficial for reading. Many electronic devices can have a lot of problems in the sunlight. The glare from the sun can make electronic screens extremely hard to see. Many companies are trying to correct this type of problem, and when dealing with color devices there have been some improvements, but the technology is still a work in progress. Some of the first electronic readers that are in black and white are the best solutions, but with time and demand for newer faster items these will be obsolete in a year or so. The public tends to demand all the bright lights and fancy color icons to click and play with. These items are great for a digital gadget or toy, not a book.
Another problem with reading an electronic device for a long period of time outdoors is the device can overheat in the sun. When electronics get too warm the touch screen malfunctions and will not pick up the touch sensation of fingers on the screen. Once the device becomes too warm, the heat can damage the electronics inside the device, causing complete failure or minor problems. In the sun paper may get a little warm but will not overheat, quit, or malfunction. The book will simply get a little warm.
While reading any paper source in a public place, I can feel safe about setting it down and walking away for a few minutes. A book or magazine in a chair can be seen as a way of marking the chair as taken if I get up for a minute. If I were to leave my cell phone or any other electronic device on the table and just look away for a moment, there is a good chance it could be taken. People look for opportunities to take items that seem valuable. If I were going for a swim, I would be worried that my electronics could get stolen, even if I hid them in a bag out of sight. If I took the device back to my car, I would have to make sure it was not visible in the car, or I could come back to a busted window. All of these problems arose because I wanted to use an electronic device to read a book while on the beach. The easier solution is to bring the one book I want to read while on the beach for the day. I can enjoy the beach and not worry about my book while away from the book. I can relax for the whole day.
Paperback books are bought for portability among other reasons. A small paperback can be stuffed in a pocket. Sometimes you grab the paperback because you know it is going to take an adventure with you. Over time the adventure may get messy and this will take a toll on the book. When you pick the book up, the pages are ragged and tattered. The ruffled edges help begin the journey before ever reading the words. The journey has already begun.
I can loan my book to a friend, and if he/she does not return it for months I am okay with that. I may even let my friend keep the book or pass it along to another person. I will not turn loose of my electronic phone or smart pad for months so a friend can read a book of mine. Loaning a book to a friend is not illegal either. Transferring a copy of the book to a friend’s device can be questionable from a legal standpoint. The same problem exists with file sharing music. I can lend a music record to a friend without any problems, but if I let him/her copy the music off of my computer I could be fined or sent to jail. The music industry has sued people for transferring one song to a friend’s computer. I am sure these same standards apply to electronic books and magazines.
If I drop a book in water it will get damaged and will not look the same ever again. The damage can ruin the book, but sometimes the water can add to the personality of the book, as well. The words on the pages tell one story, but the cover and the pages can tell of the journey the book has been through over the life of the book. It may take a few days drying the book out and caring for the damaged pages, but paper can survive. One wet book would not destroy the whole library.
If I drop my electronic device in the water it is destroyed. Electricity and water do not mix. Not only would I lose the book I am currently reading, but I could lose all of the books. The books would not be the only loss, but the electronic device would be lost, too. Even with insurance and taking all precautions, to be able to download all of the books that was on the device could take weeks. Downloading the books for a second time could cost money, too. Some purchases on electronic devices are only good for one download. If I wanted another copy of the book, I would have to pay for it again to place it on another electronic device.
Dropping paper reading materials on the ground may scuff them up, but that is about it. The damage may be so minor that it is not noticed. Many times items are dropped and there is no damage at all. An electronic device can shatter from being dropped, from even a short height. The irony is if a book is dropped onto an electronic device, will they both survive? I am positive the book will.
A book can last years and years. The older the book is, the more valuable the book, too. Some books are over 500 years old and still available for people to read. Carefully fumbling through the pages again and again can bring back memories of previous times spent with them. An electronic device becomes obsolete with time. Computers last about five to ten years and are then replaced. Electronic tablets seem to have an even shorter shelf life than that. Kindle readers have been around for five years and there are four versions on the market today. That means a new electronic reader will be released every 15 months. Replacing these computer devices changes the way a book is read and used. As technology changes, the books can be allowed to do more electronically, but this changes each books personality. The new programs add features to help bring the book alive, but at the same time they change the book, even if the change is to make the book better.
If I were to go to a book reading sponsored by the author, I would not pull out my cell phone or Kindle for the author to sign. Instead, I would have the author sign my original copy of the book. The inscription could take me back to the time when I met the author years later. I could use my phone or Kindle to take a picture of the author and place it in my book, though.
One beauty of reading a book is using my imagination while reading the story. As I read the story, images dance through my mind, encouraging personal creativity and imagination. As electronic books change they are becoming more like a web page. Each page on the tablet has information I can touch on, to go to a web site, or find out information about the author. If I wanted to read a web site, I would be on my laptop. I feel it is just a matter of time before the words are stripped away, and someone is reading the story while I view pictures on a screen: All imagination is stripped away, and a movie is playing in the background calling itself a book.
Even though there is not a lot of portability with hard books, there is a lot of personality. Electronic books allow the portability of many books, but all these books can be lost at the same time. An electronic device causes the books to lose their personality, especially when time is involved. A book over time develops personality and character even with simple things like dog-eared pages. The simplicity of a book is part of what makes it wonderful.
Most people read one or two books at the same time. The importance is not the ability to be able to carry a whole library in your pocket. The importance of the book is the simplicity of the book itself. Leather and paper can last for hundreds of years. Even though plastic does not biodegrade well, a computer from 1995 is impossible to find today. Time is a huge enemy with electronics.
Emotional attachment lives with any book in your library. When you open the book you know exactly what page a special quote is on. A search engine gives 10 million possibilities, but the book has been to this page many times before and helps your hands find their way.
The large family Bible lying on the coffee table with all the births and deaths hand written in by relatives can never be replaced by a digital system. Grandmas Bible with versus underlined and side notes over years creates an emotional attachment. The cookbook mom has used for years and she made changes to the recipe over time along with her side notes, cannot be replaced with a hard plastic device. A children’s book you had when you were young, your mom read to you over and over again. Would you want to hold them, or look at a digital picture one a device? Some items cannot be replaced in a digital age.
Ten years ago the only decision I had to make about a book was if I wanted it in hard back or paperback. Today, that is still the only decision I have to make about a book I am going to purchase. My oldest computer device is three years old, but I have some books printed in the early 1800s. All of my books, no matter their age, still work the same as they did when they were new. Books are simple compared to electronics. Books can stand the test of time, but electronic books will not last, as computer devices change constantly. I enjoy the simplicity and value of a nice hardback or paperback book over any electrical device that makes an attempt to create the same book. In the end the electronic device does not compare.