I’ve recently been playing around with e-books for the first time. This came about because a free e-book came up on my Twitter. Not having an e-reader or a tablet myself, I started exploring the Kindle for PC. It was actually quite easy to use, and overall I liked the look of the reader. (Note, I’m not endorsing Kindle over any other e-reader, this just happens to be the one I was playing with.)
While you can get free e-books online, I also wanted to check out what my local library had for e-books. Of course, libraries use a different software for their e-books, so I downloaded this as well so that I could explore. Pretty similar and easy to use. I was quite happy with using the readers on my computer and I was enjoying exploring.
When I relayed this news to one of my friends, however, her response was: “But you’re a librarian. Aren’t you supposed to hate e-books?”
Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve gotten this kind of comment. A lot of times it won’t even be phrased as a question, I just get the comment “Oh you must hate e-books,” not leaving me a chance to argue. What is it about this assumption – that I’m a librarian, therefore must love books, and of course must hate e-books?
I find this assumption interesting, especially when I think about my experience in my Master’s. A lot of my friends in the program have e-readers or tablets that they used daily. Not only that, in our program we had multiple presentations, classes, and workshops on e-readers, how to incorporate them into libraries, and things we should think about when having an e-book collection as part of the library. None of those classes taught us to hate or fear e-books, but rather considered how libraries can use this technology to our advantage.
On a personal level, I have nothing against e-books. While I have only just started to explore how I can use them myself, I can definitely see the advantage of using them. The most obvious choice is traveling and not wanting to carry multiple books, bringing an e-reader instead. I would also consider using one on a morning commute – rather than carrying a bulky book onto public transport, I can see where a smaller e-reader would be more comfortable. Even considering that rather large books can be annoying to hold one handed, or to read lying down on the couch, I might consider getting the e-book instead to make it easier to hold. Of course, none of this works for me as I only have it on my computer, but I would definitely consider getting an e-reader for these reasons.
While yes, of course I love printed books and would ultimately prefer them, this does not mean I have to be entirely against e-books. I definitely see the value of using them, and if people want to read all of their books on e-readers or tablets, then go for it. After all, reading is reading is reading. Many librarians that I know will argue that it doesn’t matter what format the story is in, so long as it gets people reading – and that is why they don’t have a hatred for e-books. I don’t just love books, I love the story, the adventure, the mystery. Whether I’m reading that story in paper form or electronic form doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s not that I love books, but I love the stories held in them, and that goes beyond the format that it’s in.
Then again, walking into an old or used book store is one of the greatest smells and feelings I know. Maybe it is the books after all.