Some Readers Prefer Ebooks – Why Keep Arguing?

many readers prefer ebooks to books

Many readers prefer ebooks, so why keep debating the issue?

The debate about whether readers prefer ebooks over books rages on in the media. Quite honestly, though, I have to ask, why?

It is as it mainstream media thinks it is at war with ebooks, or more likely, with Amazon.

Hardly a day goes by without an article or two on why ebooks are dead, or that book will win, or that readers who prefer ebooks are slaves to Amazon.

Here are two examples:

E-Books Will Never Replace Print, Because E-Books Are Stagnant and Poorly Designed.

The case against e-readers: Why reading paper books is better for your mind.

Both are a load of old poppycock!

This dumb and totally illogical quote from the Washington Post article had me in stitches.

The earth metals we’re using up to build e-readers and tablets are not just rare but highly toxic. And think about all that energy needed to run servers and cooling fans. And remember, trees are a renewable resource.

I suppose the devastation of our forests around the world, and the resulting climate change is worth ignoring if you write for the Washington Post.

Better to ignore all that, and justify deforestation in the name of maligning those who prefer ebooks. Reading the article online is ok I suppose, but lethal if you read it on a tablet?

Worse is the article in Gizmodo, E-Books Will Never Replace Print, Because E-Books Are Stagnant and Poorly Designed, as the headline seems to have nothing to do with the article.

It’s just click bait being used as a means to continue the demonisation of ebooks and ebook devices.

Then there is this killer article. E-Books Are Damaging Your Health: Why We Should All Start Reading Paper Books Again. Ok, so now ebooks are going to kill us all!

When it gets to arguments that are this pathetic, it is clear that there is a concerted campaign by mainstream media against ebooks.

But it is about as logical as conducting a campaign against smartphones, which of course are used to read ebooks. So if we follow the logic of this ‘killer ebook’ campaign, they will have to surely widen their targets to include iPhones, iPads and any electronic device that is ebook capable.

Hey, this IS war!

Burn the ebooks? Now that slogan rings a bell.

It really is time to laugh at all this propaganda.

The fact of the matter is that some readers prefer ebooks and some prefer books.

There are probably millions of readers who read both forms, with no threat of dire consequences. So what’s the issue?

There is no debate to be had here. It’s just a media smear campaign, and a beat up. Read what you like, however you like, without any fear.

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

8 thoughts on “Some Readers Prefer Ebooks – Why Keep Arguing?

  • The dinosaurs are still trying to hold onto their power. I truly believe all these articles are backed by the big publishers, who bribe these writers to post these articles. They think the backlash by so-called experts will work. It won’t.

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    • It’s almost moronic, isn’t it Barbara. It’s as if the big publishers still believe that they can sell newspapers! Dinosaurs is a good description though, because we know what happened to them.

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  • If we as a culture of consumption would hold on to e-devices of any kind for more than a year or two, I think all of us would fare better. But tech is evolving quickly and the products all the more appealing, keeping us inside the circle. The turnaround of products with toxic or hard to refine components is dangerous. You’d have to read 200–300 books to make up for the production and regular charging of an e-reader according to some measures. (100 without the charging, which is easily doable for an avid reader.)

    I worry about deforestation for the sake of soy beans and palm oil plants far more than for books, though. Books can be made from recycling paper, and truly high-quality paper is made from cotton anyway. Food cannot. So I think your counter argument isn’t quite as strong.

    I’m not a proponent of paperbacks in this fight. I just look for even better arguments.

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  • How many times have we all read articles decrying the humble ebook? How many people actually believe what the articles say? The media and the mainstream publishing world really need to grow up! The only thing they are harming by their constant attacks is their own credibility!

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  • There are some legitimate arguments for design limitations with a lot of ebooks, but only if the definition of an ebook is limited to Amazon’s Mobipocket format. The limitations stem from the format being built on antiquated HTML standards which struggle to do some things considered standard in publishing.

    That format is basically just HTML 3.2 with a small subset of CSS 1.0 shoe-horned onto it, in a single HTML file encoded with the equally archaic Windows multi-byte character encoding, bundled in a container file with any images and encased in DRM. Running into its limitations is simply inevitable and using it as the definition of an ebook makes criticism somewhat simpler. Even other ebook fans can find plenty at fault with those limitations.

    Of course the easy response to that is to point to EPUB and especially the most recent version, which is already about 5 years old. You’d be hard pressed to find much that could be done in a novel that couldn’t be done with that. Obviously there are a number of things which can be done in and with EPUBs that can’t be done with print books.

    That said, both have a place for a variety of reasons, not least of which being the readers’ preferences with their reading habits. Still, if you’re looking for some others there’s always the accessibility features for ebooks and there’s always the preservation qualities of printed media over all current digital storage hardware.

    Personally I like both EPUB and print, I buy books in both formats and though my publishing is in its early days, there’s no reason not to publish both electronic and print books too.

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  • This kept coming up on a book-focused list I used to be part of. Every time one of these articles about ebooks would come out in the news, pretty much the same tinfoil hat wearing ‘ebooks are destroying print’ conspiracy theorists would jump on and start frothing at the mouth. People would try to reason with them, sometimes even get them to concede on certain points, but they’d still be back with the same old thing every time a new article came out. It got to the point where it was kind of disturbing, since these were otherwise nice, reasonable-seeming people when any other topic was under discussion.

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  • While we should easily foresee that modern developments do tend to take over and replace older ones, this shouldn’t be something we fear or fight over.

    I think ultimately, somebody benefits from stirring the pot on these arguments. At the least, it is the people posting those click-bait articles stirring up arguments and getting clicks and traffic.

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  • I publish my books in both formats and read in both. I have heard eBooks are for the young. Thank You! I am 70 and have always loved books, eBooks make reading very portable, which I enjoy. I like books with a pretty straightforward formatting look, which makes eBooks fine for me. Progress, embrace or get left behind.

    Reply

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