According to a story on USA Today, some colleges are requiring students to purchase e-textbooks, even if they would prefer the old-fashioned print versions. The story quotes Indiana University professor Timothy Baldwin as saying he “longs to hold a book in his hands.”
I can see the advantage of having all one’s textbooks in a slim, lightweight device, as opposed to several bulky, heavy volumes to be schlepped from class to class. However, like many of the students in the article, I still like print books. I enjoy the tactile feel of holding a book in my hands, assessing the difference between large, graphic-heavy paperbacks and small, thick pocket guides. I like turning the pages, feeling the different weights and textures of the paper. I even like the smell of the ink. Mostly, though, I like the resilience of print: I don’t need a battery, charger, or outlet to read a book. I just need light.
In contrast, e-books are flat, in every sense of the word. They have no weight, no texture, no scent. They barely exist.
Finally, judging from my experience with cell phones, I just don’t trust e-readers. I would worry that my entire library could be erased by dropping it or spilling a little coffee on it.
What do you think about real books vs. e-books? Which do you prefer, and why?