Why paperbacks are better: I am surely taking sides

Why paperbacks are better!

What is the first thing you remember when you think about ‘paperbacks?’ Is it about your favourite author? Is it about the last book you read? Or is it about the book you love the most? I remember picking my first paperback book from the British Council Library when I went on a school trip. The criteria for choosing that book: None.

Honestly, I went for the book cover and name that intrigued me. Well, I never finished that book until today. I returned it after reading some fifty pages barely. It was my first book experience. Naturally, you might think that I would have quit reading after that. But, no, I still read, and I choose the books the same way I did for the first time.

Library Vs Kindle: which one will win?

The next thing I remember about books is when I occasionally spot a chocolate wrapper or a dried flower in between the pages. It serves as a recall of a sweet memory, and it makes my day. The most beautiful aspect of a book is the smell. You can never forget the smell of the rain and a new book. If you are a fan of eBook, I am sorry that you didn’t get to feel any of them, no offence.

My brother-in-law put forth a challenge asking me to write about the ‘relevance of physical books in the era of Online and Kindle.” I said, “I don’t want to involve in controversies.” My heart already has taken sides, and my mind is ready for the war. Yet, I didn’t want to speak less of Kindle, or eBooks especially when the world is ‘virtual’ now.

This post is all about why paperbacks and hardcovers can’t even have a comparison to eBooks. We have an obvious winner without any comparison. This post is also about why you should get on Amazon right now to order your favourite book and get it delivered right to your home. Online, Kindle, virtual classes, or new normal doesn’t matter.

By now, you must know where I am going with this. If you don’t like it, well, what can I say? I hope you get satisfied with the ‘percentage of the book’ completed. Anyway, without further hesitations, let’s discuss why paperbacks and hardcovers are the best.

1. Paperbacks & Hardcovers: The “OBVIOUS” Winner

As soon as I heard from my brother-in-law about the challenge, I went to research it a little bit. The posts written in favour of paperbacks has 50 points, whereas eBooks were slowly scro(aw)lling with 7 or 10. Was it surprising? No, not for me.

2. Stats, Stats, Stats…

As a digital citizen, what do you believe in? Facts or Opinions? In a recent poll survey conducted by Times of India on Twitter, 82 per cent voted for paperbacks and 15 per cent for eBooks. Is it not enough for you? Okay, brownie points for paperbacks because I love them.

Goodreader’s report (2016) says that the paperback’s market grew by 7.5 per cent while the eBook market saw a drop of 18.7 per cent in America.

3. Old is Gold

Paperbacks and Hardcovers came first. Without the help of books, there is no possibility of learning our history, civilization, culture and legacies. How do we grow if we don’t know about the path we walked? There’s no technology involved except a printing press, so no fear of books going into oblivion if the technology becomes extinct.

4. Let’s talk about Romance

If you know me, you must know that I can’t write a post without writing about Love, at least a bit. Imagine walking into a library or a bookstore, and you see your favourite book; the moment you try to grab it, you see another person grabbing it from the other side of the aisle. Do you remember the famous “Kaadhaluku mariyadhai” sequence where Vijay and Shalini grab the same copy of ‘Love and Love only’?

Even if you don’t end up getting a love life, you might at least have a friend for life. Who would want to miss that by downloading an unlimited Kindle book from the Kindle store?

5. Paged? Or Percentaged?

The eBooks “percentage” your reading progress as if it helps you somehow. Am I going to show off that I am on 56% of the book on Instagram as if it makes some sense? The reading app you use paginate the screens. So, if you want to share the quote you love with your friend, then you have no choice but to type the whole thing. The screen that appears on your mobile might not be the same for your friend.

But, in books with the same edition, then you can ask your friend to turn to page number 53 and read the fifteenth line. It works. Also, eBooks are completely useless when you must cite them for academic research.

6. Error 404

eBooks need gadgets. Gadgets need a charger, a stable internet connection, signal and software updates to support your reading app. Books work perfectly fine with none of it. That’s also why books make the perfect companion for an off-the-grid experience. I will discuss it on the next point.

7. “Off-the-grid” experience

These stressed environments require vacations, which we can’t take now. When you take a vacation in the woods, sitting with a coffee on a treehouse, would you rather have a book on your hand or a gadget that reminds you of your unhealthy lifestyle?

8. Paperbacks=Storage Space

Books are the storage space for your important receipts, postcards, love letters, dried flowers, lists, notes, leaves and so on. Sometimes, I even keep my debit card in between the pages.

9. Customizable “Bookmarks”

There is no happiness greater than creating a bookmark for your favourite book. Many origami videos illustrate how to create a fun bookmark. I see it as one of the simplest ways to increase the interest of kids in book-reading.

10. “Blink your eyes” said no Paperbacks ever

If you are reading an eBook, do not forget to blink your eyes twenty times every minute. Take a break after using the gadgets continuously for two hours. Now you must set an additional reminder aside from the one you made to read today.

11. Notifications

You cannot escape from notifications while reading a book on your iPad or your phone. Distractions reduce the fun and interest of reading a book. Well, if you think you are great at multi-tasking, go on; read the next point.

12. We aren’t really “multi-tasking”

When you read a book, simultaneously responding to a message from your friend, oftentimes, you get carried away with the conversation and stop reading. Or you might start using the social handles to lose the track of time. The University of Utah in their studies elaborates on this point:

“Only about 2.5% of people can multitask without significant loss in quality (cited in Baron, 180). That means for 97.5% of people, they are doing several things poorly at the same time.”

– Studies by The University of Utah

See how I could cite an academic research material. You know you can’t do that with eBooks, isn’t it?

13. “Touch-me-not”

As I use the Kindle reading app, I know how hard it is to highlight or add notes. The touch sensitivity disrupts the peace and flow of reading.

“What is a culture if the information that forms it never stands still.”

D T Max

How true! Depending on the font size, orientation and keyword search, the information on the book keep changing its place. It is an inconvenience at its best.

14. Touch. Feel. Smell

The physical attributes of books allow you to touch, feel and smell the book. It becomes a part of your memory. I remember purchasing a book called “Three mistakes of Life” by Chetan Bhagat during a train journey to my father’s native place. I finished the book before the end of the journey, and therefore, the book became a recalling moment. It became a memory that I can never forget.

15. Science

Have you ever experienced sitting in an exam hall to find the question you thought wouldn’t be asked on the question paper? The nightmares don’t stop there. You also know where the answer to that question is on that book, don’t you? You remember the points you highlighted, the name you scribbled on the margins and crossed it off because someone might see it. You remember everything but not the answer. Because you obviously didn’t read it.

Science calls this visual-spatial memory. When you read a book, you can visually remember the page where the quote, word or verses is on the book later. Books increase your visual-spatial memory.

16. Marginate

As a continuation to the above point, you can’t read a book without writing on the margins, the last page or spaces that you can find on the book. Doodles, flower arts, crush’s name, author’s name, and so on makes your book uniquely yours. Nobody else can have the same book as you possess now.

17. Ownership

Have you ever thought about what happens to the eBooks you purchase if you forget your credentials or don’t use your account for a long time? Simple, you lose them forever. Sometimes, you lose your eBooks because they’re not transferrable to your new device, new account or a different reading app. Loss, isn’t it?

18. Aesthetics

Need an Instagram reel-appealing background? Decorate the shelf with the books you own, and add a serial light. There you go: start a podcast, vlog or videos on a book review. Or leave it like that to enhance the aesthetics of your room.

19. Paperbacks don’t Crash

When you are doing research and want several books to remain open at once, then all you need is a room with a bigger space. With eBooks, if you are going to open several books from different sites, you need “tabs”. The more tabs you open, you know what happens, don’t you? The tortoise wins the game.

20. Feelings

Shall we talk about the feelings the books leave us with after we finish them? Well,

“I wonder if anyone has ever cried reading an ebook?”

Naomic Baron

I rest my case.

21. Focus

Why do you think kids aren’t allowed too much screen time but are asked to practise reading a book? Because reading a physical book increases the focus, and in turn, leads to memory retention. Kids who ask ‘why’ are usually the kids who read more, learn more, and know more.

22. Progress

How does it feel when you keep reading the book, and the pages become fewer and thinner towards the end? A real success, isn’t it? With eBooks, you have percentages, and it is only for people who scroll, skim and push through the book faster. To those who enjoy a book with no hustle, eBooks are never an option.

23. Maps or Traps?

When you read a fictional novel like the Hobbit, LOTR trilogy or a Harry Potter series, you can see maps to allow the readers to visualize the location. The books allow you to turn the page to the front with ease and refer to maps and glossaries at any time you want. Try doing it with your reading app, and you will lose the fancy of imagination.

24. Algorithms

How do you choose the book you want to read? Amazon’s ‘similar to the books you have read’ list? Or Goodread’s ‘this month’s readers favourite’ list? Or new releases list? Or the list your favourite authors recommend? How many lists do you go through? When you read an eBook, the reading app you use recommends the same kind of books with similar titles or genre.

How about you walk into the library or a book store and choose a book purely on your intuition? What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? A bad boring book that you will lose interest in within 50 pages? Contrarily, you could end up with the book you will adore for the rest of your life. Instead of thinking about the odds, think about the satisfaction it brings you. Also, do not forget about the chance of seeing a lot of different books and different kinds of genre.

25. A Bonus Point

I will end with this one, promise. Whether you’re reading a paperback or an eBook, how do you feel when someone disturbs you? Annoyed, right? The paperback lovers like me can throw the book we read on the face of the people who disturb us and call it a day. I am just kidding. I can’t disrespect the book that way.

Anyway, what happens when you drop a book in a worst-case scenario? You pick it up, dust it off and put it inside your bag. Think what happens when you drop that thousand-dollar gadget, and it gets broken? Enough to explain why books are valuable despite their cost, isn’t it?

So, the winner is… paperbacks obviously!

I don’t mean to say that eBooks are a bad thing. In fact, they are the blessings of our young readers. Also with the digitalization and availability of gadgets, reading has become a hobby for almost everybody. When I had to temporarily relocate, I always felt bad for leaving my books behind. Fortunately, Kindle eBooks, Oxford owl eBooks, Collins eBooks, and free eBooks that I can find online came to my rescue. I am not against eBook reading as I read books online too.

There are bad aspects about digitalization too: like piracy and copyrights threat. If you want a book that you desperately want to read but not buy, all you have to do is search for its PDF online. The authors who write the books suffer from the pirated versions of their books found online. They do not get the royalty for the book that’s downloaded online. It is a huge disrespect for the writers, poets, authors and the writing community altogether.

Keeping aside the negative points of eBooks, we also have to consider the fact that digitalization allows young, novice authors to publish for free on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). It is definitely a blessing for first-time authors to learn from their mistakes by publishing on KDP. Also, inexperienced writers can avoid vanity publishers for good.

I don’t see a dip in the publishing of books as paperbacks and hardcovers anytime soon. As long as there are book lovers, the publishers and printing press will flourish.

“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, “Where’s the self-help section?” She said that if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.”

George Carlin

If you want to meet intellectually aligned people, great librarians, and inspiring people, take a walk to the nearest library or bookstore. I assure you that you won’t regret it.

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