I love books. As an author, it’s kind of understood that I do, but I felt I ought to say it anyway. There’s just something about getting lost in a long novel, being introduced to loads of new characters, some you love, some you hate, some you love to hate, and holding on as they guide you through their many varied lives. But this post is not about the brilliance of books themselves, but rather the format they come in.
I recently watched a video on YouTube, Teens react to Encyclopaedias, and it got me thinking. In the video it suggests that this generation may be the last to grow up with physical books, and that most encyclopaedias are digital now (the one shown in the video is ten years old). It kinda makes me sad. But not. On the one hand, I love physical books, but on the other, digital is a superior format in many ways.
With physical books, you have the object in your hand. I love that feeling of turning the next page of a Stephen King with hands shaking with fear, of seeing my History of Middle Earth collection on my shelf (as far as I know, this is still unavailable in digital. Probably because of all them darn footnotes), or of the smell of the beige coloured pages. The physical book is an experience, and even though I own the complete works of Charles Dickens, bought for only a couple of quid from Delphi (check them out if you are a completist classics fan), I still enjoy reading my Folio editions of his works, bound in leather and cloth on high quality paper, with illustrations throughout. It’s something I can imagine reading by candle light while in my sitting room with a nice cup of tea.
But ebooks! Oh what a revolution that is. I have literally hundreds of books on a device smaller than your average paperback. I can access them any time I like, and I will never lose my place when the bookmark falls out. I can skip straight to the chapter I need without flicking through pages, and sometimes even to the exact scene I want. My edition of A Storm of Swords even comes with an encyclopaedia of characters, places, and all manner of stuffs. They’ve even released enhanced editions of some books with video, sound, maps, and other great things that could never have been done with paper.
So yes, I like both formats. And I can’t say to which I like more, nor do I think I need to. Books are just great, no matter what form they are in.
And after watching that video above, I really want a physical encyclopaedia. I’d never use it. But I want one.