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print vs paperThanks to Nate at The Digital Reader for posting the link to this blog post by author John Guillen. It’s a fairly straightforward rehash of my least favourite theme of the ebook revolution: the paper ‘versus’ pixel straw horse. From the article:

“The print vs. e-book question had never once been asked prior to the 2000s. But it’s a question that every bibliophile has struggled with at some point in recent years. I know I have. Before I discuss which side of the stick I happen to fall on, let’s delve into the battle a little bit first.”

Okay, where to start? First of all, the whole ‘struggle’ thing. Um, why does there have to be one? Read paper if you want to. Read ebook if you want to. Why does anybody have to be sad?

Now, the ‘battle’ part. Again, why? The fallacy of articles such as this one is the assumption that there has to be an either/or scenario here. A person has to support, as Guillen calls them, Team Printed Books OR Team eBooks and live or die by the side they choose. WHY, exactly?

I enjoy my ebook reads. I enjoy them a lot. I love that I can keep every book I want to and not have to worry about running out of storage space. I love that I can keep every book in a series and not have to prune earlier ones to make way for new relases. I love that I can read in bed on my Kobo, then pick up where I left off on my phone during the bus ride to work.

BUT…but here is the thing. There are some genres I buy (cookbooks, children’s books, how-to books) in which the layout matters. I can’t follow a recipe unless it’s on one page. I won’t read a book to a tiny child unless it’s got pictures and those still look better on paper to me. There are situations where an ebook is not the best choice for me. So for those books, I do buy paper. And there is nothing wrong with that.

The either/or binary is flawed, incorrect and fails to take into account the whole picture. I have never heard of John Guillen before today and I bet he’s a nice guy, but I am sick to death of seeing this type of story continuing to pop up online. There IS no binary. There IS no either/or. And frankly, anyone who claims that there is has in my opinion either failed to truly think this issue through critically, or failed to have enough experience with ebooks to truly see what the place for them is in the marketplace.

I have decided to fight back against the tide of choosing winners in a non-existent  battle in the only way I can: with my wallet. Any author who bores the internet with another rhetoric on this worn, irritating trope will immediately be stricken from my to-read list forever. If this is where they are at in their thinking, how could they possibly be producing work that is interesting enough to read?

Image credit: Maximilian Schönherr under a Creative Commons license

 
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