by , Friday January 6, 2017

Which format is better ?

Over the last few years people's reading habits have changed. The rise of the ebook has changed the publishing landscape and opened a greater variety of choice to the reader as well as the idea of instantly getting the fix of the latest book. Amazon was at the forefront of this revolution with it's Kindle book readers and store. Whilst we could spend hours discussing the ethics about the way they take a cut, it would distract from the real discussion of whether it's better to read an ebook on your Kindle or tablet or to read from a physical book. Both have their pros and cons.

OK, well I've been using ebooks for years. My dad gave me a Kindle 2nd Gen one Christmas, coming all the way from the US. In the intervening years I've used Kobo's, Sony Reader as well as various tablets. Mostly now I read on a tablet, a situation I never would have thought possible a few years ago. The screens have got better over the years and now with a sepia background and the brightness turned down they don't put too much strain on the eyes. I love the way that you have so many books available to buy instantly without leaving the house. You can even but and have delivered one in the middle of the night. It has a bewildering library of books from best sellers to self published. Yes you can go and publish that book you wanted to without a publisher. One of the best features though is that it keeps your place in a  book and then if you read on a different device you can pick up at the right point. That and the ability to carry with you thousands of books makes them a very good way of reading, especially on the move.

Then there's the physical book. The sort that has existed for many millennium, brought to the mass public by Thomas Caxton and his press. There's something about a physical book that gets all the senses in your body working at once. The right book assaults your eyes, your mind and your nose. From the cover to the tactile feel of the book, be it hardback or paperback, you almost salivate at the prospect of burying your eyes deep into its pages. There's a joy about visiting a real bookshop and seeing the rows and rows of books. Each different from the next one, a veritable book porn laid bare for our senses. Choosing  a real book is a delight, so many options. The covers lead you in, the blurb provides the first tingles and then the book is opened and your smell is assaulted by that new book scent, like perfume to the trained snout. Sure there are disadvantages. You can't get a real book instantly. However it's a kind of a treat, a big adventure to visit the bookshop. I could spend days in there, especially with the wonderful little cafe they have. It's great to venture to other places that you don't often visit. Each shelf hiding hidden treasures. A real book is a treat for yourself, almost as healing as chicken noodle soup.

So both formats hold different plus points and also negatives. It's a matter of preference as to which format you'd choose but why not have both ? I read a lot of the time on my tablet. It's convenient on the move and in the middle of the night when you don't want to put a light on. You can get a book to slainthe the itch you have to read instantly and you can move easily from phone to tablet keeping the same place.  Books however have a special place in my heart. I love browsing, finding the obscure books which you miss on an online store. I love reading from a real book, it's a pleasure that never goes away. However the most important thing is not how we read, but we read. The interface we use is less important than the words. The words are the most important, the way they take us to places we've never been, experience emotions like never before. Through a few carefully constructed sentences life inside us can change in a heartbeat. Few forms of art can ever do that.

Books have this great influence on all of us. Just remember that it's not how you read but that you read everything you possibly can.


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