It’s the Smackdown we’ve all been waiting for! But who will win the battle of the fiction ferriers? Part 1 today. Part 2 later. Part 3 if the comments get nasty.
Everyone always goes on about the smell of bookshops, or of new books. I’m not so sure it applies – to fiction, at least. The only bookshop I know in Dublin which has a discernible smell is Eason’s, and that scent wafting out the door onto O’Connell Street comes from magazines rather than books. However, I’ll never forget the smell of a new school textbook. That shiny, smooth paper. The coloured ink. To this day when I pick up something with a colour graphic in it my first instinct is to snort the inside spine. It’s a bit of an occupational hazard.
Verdict: PRINT. Because modern fiction mightn’t smell of much, and old books may smell of mould, but tablets and eReaders don’t smell of anything. Useless.
2. General Portability
He said YES! The boss, that is. You’re on sabbatical and you’re off for 6 whole months of rucksack-toting around Asia! You’re so excited! Hostels and hotels will surely operate book-exchange systems. You know, the “take a book, leave a book, we are love, etc”, all that hippy crap. So you’ll be fine with bringing one copy of Not-So-Lonely Planet and that classic you’ve been swearing to read all your life, even though despite 4 attempts to date you’ve never made it past chapter 2.
Verdict: E-BOOK. Of course. But you knew this. Unless you like the sort of German chick-lit which hotels and hostels breed without a licence.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: oh, e-Books, for sure! Word searches faster than a speeding speedy thing! No contest. But in fiction? Think about it.
Say it’s the 2nd last chapter. Tarquin is on his knees, about to do away with himself, begging Ermintrude to remember what he said to her in the library. But you can’t remember yourself. You want to go back and find whatever words of divine beauty and universal truth he’s referring to. You can practically see it in your head: the layout of the text; a page full of dialogue. You start looking for it. There’s no point on doing a digital search for the words “Tarquin”, “Ermintrude”, or even “library” because they’re on every second page. Besides, you also have no idea what chapter you’re looking for.
Verdict: PRINT. Because you can bookmark Tarquin’s dying breath with one thumb and with the other, flick through 20 pages per second looking to trigger your memory. How do you do this on an eReader?
This is complicated. eReaders are generally more hold-able. But some tablets are too heavy, backlighting could drive your partner nuts, and it’s not advisable to fall asleep on an electronic device, drooling all over the screen. Reading on your phone? Didn’t your mother tell you not to strain your eyes? On the other hand, you’ll get repetitive strain injury reading massive paperback tomes in bed. And don’t even talk to me about hardbacks.
Verdict: E-BOOK… probably. Unless you’re reading the Abridged Concise Pocket Book of Teeny Tiny Things.
Part 2 later this week. When the overall verdict will be as clear as Liffey riverwater. 😉