At Loose Ends we love to read. We get out and about so much that e-readers are a real blessing for us, helping pass the time on trains, planes and buses, and while waiting.
So the question of whether e-readers are making books obsolete is one that’s close to our hearts.
Cards on the table; even though our e-readers are with us all the time, we still prefer physical books.
Here’s why we think the e-reader will never make the real book obsolete.
You Don’t Own the E-Books You’ve Bought
Really. This sounds crazy, right?
But a couple of cases a few years ago highlighted that when you ‘buy’ an e-book from most retailers, you’re really just leasing it.
Bad enough that there’s no such thing as a valuable first edition e-book you can leave to future generations. With many e-book sellers, you can’t even take it for granted that the books on your e-reader will stay there.
If there are copyright disputes, for example, the retailer is well within their rights to delete the disputed title from your e-reader.
You Can’t Get Your Favourite Author to Sign an E-Book
Or at least not properly.
There are workarounds, such as getting them to autograph your e-book cover. But that’s not feasible if you’re a fan of multiple feuding authors (like Paul Theroux and VS Naipaul).
And just think how quickly you’d run out of space if you go to a lot of signings.
There’s a number of technologies aimed at addressing this very real drawback. But none of them is anywhere near as good as real ink on beautifully-bound paper.
You’ll never be able to sell a signed e-book for a profit, either.
Are e-readers making books obsolete for collectors, then? No way.
E-Readers Don’t Look Good On Your Coffee Table
Don’t get us wrong, e-readers are attractive enough. But put them side by side with the latest large-format, glossy offering from Phaidon, and your average Kobo or Kindle doesn’t even come close.
Call us precious if you like, but we think a well-curated selection of coffee table books adds a certain pizzazz to one’s living space. It’s like having your very own art gallery.
While we’re on the subject of art, even high-end iPads can’t match the glories of illustrations rendered in print. There’s no texture, no whiff of ink, and the devices themselves are way too small to be truly spectacular.
E-Readers Aren’t Ice-Breakers
Nothing breaks the conversational ice at pre-dinner party drinks than book talk.
And browsing your library keeps your guests gainfully occupied while you’re blowtorching the caramelised foie gras starter, so they don’t go rifling through your toiletries.
Imagine: if your entire library were on an e-reader, there’d be nothing for them to browse. Everybody at work would soon know that you decant Aldi own-brand moisturiser into a Clinique bottle, and that you’re on high-dose beta blockers.
Are E-Readers Making Books Obsolete? The Evidence
In December 2009, Amazon proudly announced that e-books had outsold physical books for the first time in history.
Quite naturally, this led to widespread panic about the future of paper-based publishing, and predictions of its total collapse.
But in 2015, real books started making a big commercial comeback. It seems we’re not alone in thinking that e-books are a convenient runner-up in the reading stakes.
What’s your opinion? Are you strictly ‘team paper’, or do you love your e-reader? Let us know via [email protected]