Paper Books are Better than E-Books
I am not suggesting that e-books are unnecessary or even more harmful. On the contrary, they are practical and modern. To say the opposite is to resist evolution, which has always been a Sisyphean work, and by no means pathetic, but miserable. Here is an e-book, it is indispensable, for example, when traveling, especially if you are limited in luggage, and it is impossible to dispute. I don’t know how many similar arguments can be found, many. Even I sometimes read from my smartphone, like all normal people. Sometimes it’s a work necessity, and sometimes it’s common sense. I appreciate it when there is an opportunity to choose from different options. And yet, for me and for many, paper books are preferable. And this is not just a whim, because reading from paper cannot be completely equated with reading from a display. There is evidence from several studies showing that information from paper books is better absorbed. But even this is not the main thing. The main thing is what we want to get from the process itself, from the contemplation of the objectivity, materiality and psychology of the book.
An e-book is not a book! It is a euphemism, figure of speech, which means digital text. Sometimes in “e-books” there are illustrations, perhaps some additional options such as the ability to make notes, and so on. Some manufacturers even offer a page-turning rustle function (God be their judge). But by themselves, e-books are just files. A paper book is a material object of our level of perception. We can weigh it in our hand, feel it by touch, put it in our bag with us. It has pages, a cover, a spine, a bleed, an endpaper – integral, obligatory parts. All of them can be the subject of design, enter into a special relationship with the text, supplement and expand it. By mentally combining these attributes together, we are talking about the art of the book. The book simply has to be a piece of art (or design, if you share these concepts). Let’s also cast aside the negative spirit that has stuck to the concept of “thing” and admit: a book is a thing! Like any thing, it can be pleasant, friendly, comfortable, beautiful. Your favorite book will stay with you for a long time. You will read a skillfully published text more attentively, you will love it more, and at the same time its container. After all, you perceive a book with several senses at once, in contrast to digital information, which is available only through sight. You not only read books with your eyes, but also touch, hear, and even smell. And they are all different! It turns out that this book is available in a wider range of sensations. You don’t think about it when you read it, but it gradually affects the perception of the text. This means that reading electronic media and reading from paper will never be completely equal practices. By the way, every poorly designed and produced book is a nail in the coffin of the printing industry. It is a crime to waste precious wood pulp from deforested forests on ugly books. Even the most devoted adherent of paper will renounce it and switch to reading numbers, if the books are not objects of pleasure, at least aesthetic, if they do not bring joy in the quality of things.
Magic and its death Even though this is the original purpose of the book – to be the bearer of the text – in itself it is something much more. The book is a unique object, to the eyeballs filled not only with information, but with stable symbolic meanings accumulated over the centuries in the collective memory. We can say that any book for the consciousness that perceives it means much more than itself. Books are magical items. They were the main means of preserving and transmitting cultural knowledge, and a respectful and sometimes reverent attitude was brought up to them. The most powerful millennial cults have been built around the books. Books have penetrated into the very flesh of the civilization of the spirit, have become its sacred part. Therefore, we can perform ritual actions with them. We can swear on the book, guess by it, sacrifice it or set it on fire (regardless of the ethics of the actions performed and the cults mentioned). Digitization means desacralization. The book is no longer an artifact, the magic is dead. The loss of objectivity and, more importantly, of individuality, also reduces the degree of approximation to the text. The cherished lines that make the heart beat faster remain just a file on a smartphone, a ghostly phenomenon of a microcosm invisible to the eye, a mathematical algorithm that you most likely do not fully understand. You cannot even be completely sure that during the time it was in the undeciphered state on the flash memory, errors did not appear in the text, that it is the same as it was. In this respect, a paper book is much more true to you, it can wear out, but it will retain the content in full accuracy. The smell of plastic It is interesting to compare the book world with the record industry, which is now experiencing something like a rebirth from the dust. Reading paper is like listening to vinyl. One who is dedicated understands and appreciates the difference with other native speakers. By the way, about the carriers. The phrase “e-book” can also mean a device for reading files. But, interestingly, in this sense, it is falling out of use. It was replaced by the word “reader” and its Russian equivalent “reader”. And the plastic devices themselves, which at first attracted the fact that you can fill in a lot of texts and thus save money, have gone out of fashion. They break, buggy, and break easily. Many users do not buy themselves a new reader if the old one is broken. As a result, most people read from smartphones. You say reading spoils your eyesight? How about reading small print from a small glowing screen? The Battle for Space In the rejection of paper books, there is often an argument that they take up a lot of space in the home. Yes, they do. But can it be argued that by freeing themselves from books, people have expanded the space for life? No, they immediately filled it with other items – clothing, equipment. Under the guise of liberation from things, an unequal substitution of one for another is made. That which contributes to the development of personality, is ousted from the living space by purely everyday or even redundant, such as, for example, an overly extensive wardrobe. But books contain infinitely many spaces through which your consciousness can travel.
It’s about the same with the cost of buying books. Are you really sure that by saving on them, you will spend money on something more important or necessary for life? When Mr. Alzheimer knocks on your skull at a venerable age, you will not be able to tell him: I have trained my brain with reading all my life, wait outside the door! Everything that you have acquired with the banknotes saved will turn into nothing, into the dust of time, about which there will not even be anything to remember, unlike a good book. Maybe electronic, but paper here is clearly in a winning position. For example, I remember all my favorite books visually and by touch. Too expensive? Well, first of all, not too much. Go to Amazon and compare at least with prices in developed countries. And in general, a good book cannot be cheap. If this is a well-made publication that is pleasant to pick up and can then be given to someone else to read, then it will be worth its money. You either understand why you need it, or you don’t. Want to read it, but don’t need a paper version – there is always an option to download a figure, thank the progress!