E-Readers Vs. Paperback Pushers: Is Anybody Still Reading REAL Books Anymore?

January 28, 2013  |  


Today I made a mad ridiculous dash to the library, in the rain, with the remnants of a stubborn cold, all in the name of retrieving a good book.

To be honest, I didn’t even know that it was going to rain, so the situation was a bit more dramatic then it needed to be because I failed to trust in the Weather Channel. Anywho, I’ve spent good money over the past few years buying up books to rack my bookshelf with, but with bookstores charging an arm and a leg for new literature and me having better things to spend my money on (like bills), I decided a library card would be the answer to all my problems. Eh, it actually made things a bit worse. After trekking in the rain for longer than I had expected with my wallet in tow, once I got to the library, I was asked if I had a copy of the lease to my apartment, or a rent check to prove that I actually lived where I said I did. They basically wanted my life story in exchange for a book. I had neither of those things and was pretty pissed off as the lady at the front desk looked at me, dripping water  all over the place, and had no sympathy for my trek. As I headed out looking for a taxi, I thought to myself, “See, this is the s**t that makes people want to go buy a Kindle, read everything online and leave this whole book business behind.”

But honestly, that was just an overreaction for the moment. I honestly LOVE books. Tangible books that is. I’m from the old school where as a kid you’d get accelerated reader points, buttons, stickers and pizza for checking out and reading books. I love the smell of a new book. I love throwing a book in my bag and pulling it out on a longer-than-expected train ride. I love physically passing a good read on to a friend, family member or co-worker and have them tell me they loved it. Most importantly, I like to throw the book on my shelf to remind myself that I successfully tackled another complex novel (and to show other people, YES, I can read *winks*).  But more and more people seem to be going in the opposite direction, riding the always growing technology wave and opting to do everything, including reading their favorite book of the moment, through some sort of gadget or device.

Amazon just broke a record for Kindle sales on Cyber Monday last year, and if E-readers aren’t enough for people, many are still reading their books on tablets. Hell, even Oprah’s Book Club has gone digital. My sister, the biggest reader I’ve known in life, asked for a Kindle when she received her Master’s last year and I cried on the inside (not really, but you get it). And I was honestly even a bit sad to find out that for my niece’s seventh birthday, she was given a Kindle. I guess her encounters with children’s literary classics like Jambo Means Hello and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, or Dr. Seuss, and Roald Dahl joints will be introduced to her through the Internet. With Borders done and Barnes & Nobles claiming they’re going to start closing more and more of their stores in the next few years, it’s becoming pretty clear that tides are shifting.

I recognize that we’re in a time and place where most people can do everything online (watch movies, watch television, get news, weather, pay bills and more), but for some reason, I think I’d always hoped that small, foldable paperbacks and hardcovers that you take the paper packaging off of before sharing with a friend would continue to be the preferred method of reading. But it seems that convenience is what’s getting people to change it up. I can’t lie, even I find that it’s faster for me to read my bible verses on my phone while on the way to church or in church then to lug my beloved but heavy bible in the green zipper case with me.

But as my mother would say, there will always be a few people who would rather pick up a book as opposed to picking up just another electronic gadget out of the many they already have (that might have a new upgraded version the moment you blink). And despite my beef with my local library, I’ll continue to be part of that group, bunny earring pages and tearing up paperback editions of Junot Diaz and Octavia Butler as long as I still have the opportunity to. With everything already headed online, can we keep just one thing in its original classic format? Probably not…but it never hurts to hold out hope.

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  • I have recently started reading books on my phone. I never thought I would like it but I do. I still like real books though, but I am finding it hard to go back in forth btwn the two formats.

  • I have recently started reading books on my phone. I never thought I would like it but I do. I still like real books though, but I am finding it hard to go back in forth btwn the two formats.

  • I LOVE to read but my bookshelf cannot hold anymore real books and I had to resort to placing my books all over. That is the only reason why I am purchasing an e-reader so i will be getting most of my books from the library or electronically from now on, although I love the feel and ownership a real book has.

  • It’s like you are speaking to me. I am such a BOOK reader, book shelves full so my bf thought he’d buy me a Kindle and while the thought was great, I love books. I got like 2 e-books on the Kindle and it has been collecting dust ever since. Literally it’s on my shoe shelf :(…While my book shelf grows! I’m down with technology (kinda, I got rid of my blackberry see!) but I just cannot give up, turning the page, the smell, bending the pages, highlight great parts…all the things that make reading what reading is, for me at least 🙂

  • kierah

    In addition, I read my books over and over again. I could fill 10 Kindles with my book collection. There is just something so elegant about a home with a bookshelf. You learn a lot about a person by checking out what they read.

  • Cheryl

    I rarely buy paperbacks. Even libraries allow you to borrow e-books. Save a tree. Your sentimentality isn’t great for the environment. I have a Kindle Fire. My ebooks can’t be erased, as they are stored digitally in the Amazon cloud. If its stolen, I have insurance. I can hold over 3200 book in one hand. I read and blog and connect with others.

    • kierah

      You didn’t hear about that lady who allegedly violated Amazon’s terms. Amazon wiped out her entire library and she isn’t permitted to purchase any more books. She was cleared of the infraction, but they didn’t restore her books. You don’t buy E-books. Instead, it’s a like a long term lease. Read the fine print. They can be taken away. This was on an NBC news website about a couple of months ago.

  • FromUR2UB

    I read paperbacks…buy them at Half Price Books. I like the sense of progress I get with a real book: a quarter way through it, halfway, three quarters of the way, only a few pages left. For some reason, a suspense thriller doesn’t seem authentic unless I read it in paperback.

  • Marguerite

    I love books. Haven’t gotten into the ebook phase yet, but I will never stop reading paper books.

  • Lateshia

    I’m still old school I love reading the paper back books or the hardcover books. I like to make a picture as I’m reading that is the fun part to me when reading, it make me wonder how was people reading before all this e-book and audio books came along. I can understand people don’t have time to read a full book but just read a few pages a day or a chapter. You don’t have to read the whole book.

  • JaneJane

    I am a paperback junkie…Love everything about them, even bookstores. Currently reading “Warmth of Other Suns” and after I finish I will mail it to my mother (who will pass it on to one of my brothers).

  • Allie

    I’m with @GalaxyEmpress:disqus, there’s nothing for me that compares to making a trip to the library and checking out some new books to read, technology can’t replace everything 🙂

  • dee

    I do both. If I really thing it’s a classic or if it’s a textbook requiring highlighting etc I will buy the hard copy. I mostly do magazines on my e-reader because I have a hard time tossing out favorite issues.

  • I have 6 pretty full bookcases in my home. I have an e-reader and use it, but I will always have an actual book and a couple of magazines opened and dog-eared as well. I still get a newspaper most days.

  • It’s so easy to do the 1-click shopping, and you don’t even have to leave the house!

  • Charla

    I love reading e-books. Many books at your disposal with only a few clicks. I still read paperbacks but I can carry my iPad with 100 books on them much easier.

  • Michiko

    Yes. I never read books electronically.

  • GalaxyEmpress

    I only read real paper books, just not into the whole e-reader/kindle thing. What if the kindle gets stolen or some kind of crazy malfunction erases all the books that were paid for or something like that??? Ain’t nobody got time for that!!!

  • Meyaka

    I do both, I have a kindle and I still own Several paper books and still purchase a paper copy if the book was that good.

  • rzakia

    I haven’t jumped on the e-reader train yet either. I love technology but when it comes to e-readers vs real books, for me it’s cheaper for me to go online and buy used books and a lot of books I’ve read just in the past year weren’t available in the e-reader format.