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To e or not to e, that is the question

With technology evolving at an incredible speed, we often find ourselves looking back and criticising where it has brought us today. One of the famous debates between the traditional and the new is between physical books and e-books. At first sight, our argumentative and criticising nature may say that digitising books diminishes the need, or even the love, for the traditional, printed book. However, taking this defensive view is not always necessary—and definitely isn’t in this case. One should instead consider the fact that new applications and tablets facilitate the spread and accessibility of literature.

As students, two of the things most of us lack are money and time—both of which can be saved by purchasing a digital copy of a book online rather than going out and buying it. Having books at such discounted prices will not only encourage people to buy them, but also to step outside of their comfort zones and read things they usually aren’t interested in.

As for the original bookworms, having digitised copies of books makes it easier to read more than one book at the same time, as you can carry them around with you.

One of the growing trends today is also audiobooks, where a recording of a book or novel is provided. At first glance, this sounds like a new level of laziness. However, listening to an audiobook offers a feat that reading cannot, it allows for one to listen to the book while doing other things.

Now, one can ‘read’ while driving, walking down the street, or cooking, for example. Of course, this compromises one of the most essential aspects of a book; analysing its characters, pondering different ways of wording, or mulling over the sentence structure. However, compared to the alternative of not reading at all, audiobooks seem to be an acceptable hybrid between reading a book and skipping straight to the movie.

In fact, one of the reasons e-books are vital at this time and age is the technological advancement of everything else around them—why would one read a book if they can just wait for the movie to come out?

To compete with such modern advances in technology, books must also quickly adapt, even if that means that we must divert from the comfortable norm. With various new types of entertainment of instantaneous media such as online streaming, the book is becoming more and more of a strain. Over the years, humans and animals have had to adapt to different changes. Likewise, the only way for books to survive is by adapting to modern-day changes.

Lastly, it seems ironic that with so many campaigns and movements towards recycling and reusing paper, we still print endless copies of books that could easily be provided online.

It is a sure fact that books usually leave a mark on their reader. However, rarely does the reader leave a mark on a book; unless they are studying it, the reader will buy a book, read it, and then leave it as if had never been touched.

It may then lie there until the reader decides to read it again or perhaps lend it to a friend. Either way, it is a huge waste of paper and effort to print endless copies of books. Therefore, to cease this hypocritical waste, we should instead resort to the more ecological option of downloading books on phones and tablets that we already own.

Of course, physically flipping through pages and reading a book from cover to cover is an unmatched feeling. Many could easily argue that reading a book off of a screen or listening to it leaves more space for distractions, throwing away the true enjoyment of reading a book. However, this argument may only exist as we slowly transition from physical to digital books.

As time continues, e-books may become the norm, and given how we humans evolve, we will slowly begin to enjoy books this way as much as we did the old way. Perhaps this will in fact lengthen our attention spans as they become accustomed to concentrating on a e-book and ignoring distractions. One way or another, with the easy accessibility of e-books, we will soon get used to them and perhaps even prefer them to physical books.

Tags: adaption, books, ebooks, kindle, literature, Reading, technology

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