Weird title is weird. Chalk it up to one of my Cream-O highs.

Lately I’ve been on an ebook download spree. I’ve acquired a good number of books which would probably take me years to read. It’s a hoarder habit, I know, but I would like to imagine that I have a full ‘virtual library’. I have a book shelf full of books right here at home, but while some of them are my favorites, most in the selection aren’t of my choosing. My ‘virtual library’, on the other hand, mostly has fantasy books (fantasy being my favorite fiction genre) with the occasional English grammar-related book thrown in. Hey, you never know when the prepositions really matter.

Books

Unappetizing - for some

After getting my certainly-more-than-one-hundred collection and reading a couple of them blessed PDFs, I came to this conclusion:

Real-life, honest-to-goodness books are still better.

Yes, yes, I know that going digital has probably saved a fair swath of our forests. I acknowledge that, I love trees (give them a hug – they have less issues than you). Seriously now, going ‘paperless’ – digitizing your documents, books and notes – has lots of advantages. For starters, you save trees, which by itself is one of the coolest things you could do. Second, you can be assured that termites won’t be gnawing them to produce their communal housing (or whatever they do with paper anyway). I can attest how heartbreaking it is to see your beloved books eaten by those pesky creatures. In a sense,  you can be assured that your books would be preserved for a long time because they’re online and therefore, aren’t in the same plane of existence with the termites, yellow-page-phenomena, rats and accidental spilling. Third, it facilitates easy sharing – and you don’t even have to worry the ink smudging your fingertips. Lenin’s book NOT in the library (and you have recitation on Tuesday)? Don’t worry, I’ve downloaded it and would gladly share it with you! As a nice bonus, said book doesn’t even weigh a feather, because it’s online.

But still.

It must seem to be purely aesthetic and ‘tradition’, but books still have an edge over their digital counterparts. A PDF version of ‘A Storm of Swords’ will be sweet for a back-up copy, but I still cherish my real-life, almost-two-inch-thick paperback.   For one thing, my paperback ‘Storm of Swords’ weigh considerably less than my laptop, making it easier to carry around. While my book will probably succumb to yellowing and – heaven forbid – termites, it doesn’t require electricity to read. If I don’t have a laptop or a Kindle, then it’s fine. Moreover, I’ve seen unofficial ebook versions which are formatted poorly and are a pain to read. At the very least, real-life published books aren’t like that (or has less chances of looking like that).

During my OJT, my boss once told me that while reading news online is convenient, there’s something ‘different’ in reading newspapers. She told me that unlike online articles, newspapers are ‘real’, in the sense that they exist physically. If you keep it somewhere and decide to look at it again, you can retrieve it and affirm that yes, it did exist – it’s in your hand, after all. I think it’s the same with books. There’s a surge of excitement when you peel away the plastic and open it for the first time. There’s something satisfying in turning the pages, of feeling the paper between your fingers. It has a very old-school but very physical presence. It’s real, and you have it.

In the end though, I think ebooks are winning. Last year’s Christmas season saw the rise of ebook sales over published books. Publishers release ebook versions of their books, perhaps with a lower price. I’m fine with the transition, but I guess it will take some time before I truly forget the old-school charms of a heavy tome in your hands.

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