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Print vs. Electronic, the Great Book Debate

By Nicolle Schorchit

Are you the person who breathes in deeply when you walk into a bookstore, feeling absolutely content, strums your fingers across the binds of the books on the shelves, until finally getting that buzz of excitement as you pick off a copy of the newest book in your favorite series and hold it in your hands?

Or are you the person who loves typing in the title on the search bar, purchasing the newest book in your favorite series (perhaps at a cheaper price than in-store), and anxiously waits for the book to download completely, cherishing the practicality of eBooks and its instant gratification?

There are many who are vehement in their passion for the hardcopy printed version of their book, and others who reply we should keep up with the times. EBooks are better and are the future. Then, there are those who seemingly do not care.

We cannot exclude those folks who pretend not to care about whether they read online or on paper because in the end isn’t all just about reading? Yet, everyone uses a rational thinking process and chooses one over the other due to, well, reasons.

As a “print-lover,” and I am dumbfounded when people choose a Kindle over a tightly bound packet of printed pages. Books are tangible. I can touch, hold, and smell them. Yes, I am that person that rifles through the pages smelling them. I love the musty smell of old and used books, the yellow tainted pages because of old age. As someone once told me, books are more intimate and hold your personal feelings with every touch of the page.

Books can be gifted. They can be signed especially to you by the author. I can say from experience, getting your book signed by the author is a really fantastic experience! Whenever you look at that book or reread it you can be reminded of the person that gave it to you.

You can write annotations in a book, or, if reading a used book, read another’s annotations. You can learn so much about a book through annotations and also about the person who wrote the annotations.

Books can and have lived many past lives. When you hold on to a book you can just imagine who read it before you, where it was read, and how they were held, you can imagine moments in time.

Plus, they look pretty on shelves. One of the reasons why books are a little more costly than eBooks is because of the covers. Each detail was painstakingly chosen, to the font, the gold lettering, the cover art, etc. Some are even leather bound, especially older books from when back when. They have the words and pictures etched onto the covers. These books are pieces of art as well as good stories, and that is what makes them special.

Now, a real practical advantage to reading print instead of online is that studies have shown that when you read hardcopies you read faster, retain more information, and comprehend the text better.

“Articles or short pieces are fine, but when it comes to longer pieces it’s hard to keep my focus,” said Wafa, a Montgomery College-Germantown student.

Switching gears a bit, it is true you cannot read a book in the dark. I will not go into the considerable eyestrain done by reading on a computer or iPad, especially in the dark (even in a dark room with a low light screen it can really hurt your eyes), but I will acknowledge the use of “e-ink,’’ used by products such as the Kindle and Nook.

E-ink is great because it is like you are reading from normal paper. To me it was definitely a strange feeling, looking at the screen and wondering in awe at how much it really looks like paper. Although that is great, it just sort of brings us in full circle. You cannot read e-ink in the dark either, although you can definitely use a reading light, but that just makes it like any other normal book.

Books do not have batteries that can die on you in the middle of a climax, and when the Internet fails books will always be there for you.

Although, as a student, I do acknowledge and frustratingly accept the fact that eBooks are so less expensive, especially for students. E-text books are much cheaper and less cumbersome to carry around than the large brick of a regular textbook.

A fact is community college books are basically 75 percent of tuition.

Sometimes students, due to economic reasons, will unfortunately not purchase the textbook because of the high price, but the electronic version would be just the right price and a good alternative. With eBooks you do not have to worry about the bookstore not having the book or make that decision of actually taking out a relatively considerable time to go to the bookstore when you could be using that time to be doing something else.

For example, my uncle, who has two small children, loves the library eBook system. He loves to read, but just does not have the time to go out and get a book with two rambunctious toddlers on his hands.

A bonus of the eBook system is that you never have to pay fines because the book will automatically return itself. He was so excited about it that he even tried to get me into it, fully knowing how I felt about eBooks.

Stories are still stories. The material is still the same in eBooks. The words still evoke the same emotions as a print version would.

About The Globe (100 Articles)
We are the student newspaper for Montgomery College, Germantown Campus.

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