In Part 1 we covered the smell of fiction; book exchanges in Asia; finding that important passage you didn’t notice was important at the time, and reading whilst asleep. But that only covers the obvious stuff. The fiction fracas continues.
Paper doesn’t care if that really annoying kid dive-bombing the swimming pool soaks everyone in the vicinity. And traditional books don’t cause any crucial-point-in-the-story induced panic on the plane, when the mean and horrible cabin crew scream at you for the 10th time to turn off all electronic devices for takeoff and landing. However, it only takes 10 minutes, lying on your back, for your arms to go numb holding a traditional book whilst blocking the sun at the same time. Most eReaders can be lightly held at a multitude of angles. Just keep them away from the sun-tan lotion.
Verdict: E-BOOK. Because there is only one winner when suitcases and budget airlines are involved.
6. The Hipster Factor
If your friends were describing you, would they say “oh, Jeremiah? Man, he reads so much! I don’t even know how many books that guy has read. That list on Facebook – you know, of the top 100 books? He got, like, 93%. Can you believe it? He’s so smart and well-read, my pal Jeremiah.”
If you’re a big reader, sure, you can have thousands of followers on Twitter waiting for your next book review. You can tell everyone at parties how you read Blockbuster de Jour That Was My Favourite Until You Heard About It before it hit the bestseller list. You could even have an ironic scout’s badge for Reading A Lot. But your shelves are bare, dude, and books make unparalleled furniture. Nobody comes into your artfully-distressed loft and gasps at the sheer volume of volumes on your bookshelves. And the 3,000 free books you downloaded to your Kindle Fire last Tuesday won’t impress anyone – what’s the point of having loads of books you will never read, if not to impress people?
Verdict: PRINT. Because books aren’t just for reading, they’re also for poncing about with.
7. Street Credibility
This can work both ways – but usually to hide your book, not flaunt it. Nobody is going to carry a copy of Ulysses around from the train to the office to the artisan greengrocer just so people can see it, no matter how pretentious they are. On the other hand, there is nothing like an innocuous eReader to hide the stains on our literary souls. Erotica? Hidden! Young Adult Paranormal Romance? Concealed! Biography of an Arsenal player, even though you’re supposed to support Liverpool? Sad!
Verdict: E-BOOK. Because we always hide more than we think.
8. Sense and Sensuality
I like holding books. I like turning pages with the index finger of my right hand, using my right thumb to hold down the page as I finish one before moving to the next. Every now and then, mid-book, I like to look at the cover art again and feel the texture of the book jacket, especially if it’s embossed, or that kind of matt velvety touch that’s in vogue lately. And I like being able to flip the book in my hands to re-read the blurb/synopsis at a moment’s notice. I don’t want to have to bookmark my place and go searching for this kind of rudimentary stuff. Game over.
VERDICT: PRINT. Because you can’t feel ones and zeros.
OVERALL VERDICT: A lame and cowardly dead heat! How’s that for trying to please everyone?
So… agree or disagree? What’s your preference?