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E-Book vs Paperback Standoff: And the Winner Is…

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I joined Twitter because of three things; I was bored, I had serious FOMO (fear of missing out), and needed social engagement, or so I thought. You can imagine my shock when I realized that Twitter has groupings. And that tweeps curate their timelines to match their identities. There’s a book twitter, football twitter, meme twitter, political twitter, and even a “chokoraa” twitter, that jubilates at the sight of snide pontification. Despite my misgivings, I journeyed on as the tweep who didn’t fit in any of the groupings. I was just the overtly Christian guy who loved books, football, politics, memes, and banter.

That said, even though I am comfortable with my Twittersphere concoction, I lean more towards book twitter. I recall sending a direct message to someone who I had had an exchange with about Five Point Someone, a story about three friends in college. I wrote in his inbox, “You are family now.”

There’s something relational about having similar tastes in books. I didn’t realize how close books were to my heart until I started discussing my favourite books with other readers.

My piquing interest in book twitter resulted in me getting into heated debates about book-related topics. One such example was the Paperback Vs E-book debate. In the discussion, one of the tweeps wrote, “Books from my favourite authors I will always buy in paperback.” Another wrote, “I prefer E-books for their physical convenience, instant availability and inbuilt dictionary.”

Then there was a series of ifs, buts, maybes, and other caveat tweets, that culminated into one tweet that read, “I just want books, in whatever form. Just give me books.”

I’m not the biggest fan of E-books or even audiobooks, but I have found myself rummaging the E-bookdom – Amazon Kindle, Scribd, Nook, Webnovel, Light Reader, Apple Books, and Africa Read- because traditional bookshops didn’t have what I was looking for.

As a reader, there are lots of good reasons to prefer either one. E-books are preferable to readers who have trouble reading the typical book-sized font because they can enlarge the font to a size that is easier on their eyes.

Environmentalists would also chime in and say that E-books are better for the environment.

The best part about digital books, undoubtedly, is that you can carry a library of various book genres, all in one device. Those who prefer paperbacks, however, could argue that nothing beats the tactile and silky sensation of paper beneath your fingertips and the sweet smell of books.

Indeed old books do that have a sweet smell with notes of vanilla flowers and almonds, as a result of a breakdown of chemical compounds in the paper. New books smell the way they do because of the various chemicals used when the paper itself is manufactured, the ink used to print the books, and the adhesives used in the process of book-binding.

Those who prefer paperbacks, however, could argue that nothing beats the tactile and silky sensation of paper beneath your fingertips and the sweet smell of books. Click To Tweet

To get more insight into this E-books vs paperbacks debate, I sought the opinion of four avid readers.

Lesalon Kasaine, an author, reader, and content strategist at Qazini, stated that he uses both, but prefers paperbacks. “I prefer paperback because it builds my home library and there is something magical about the feel of a book in my hands. When travelling, however, I use apps like Lithium to read, because sometimes I don’t want to open my bag and fetch a physical book. When in bed, and there’s a book that I want to read, I usually turn on eye care/night mode and read myself to sleep. Nonetheless, whether it is an E-book or paperback, it doesn’t matter much. What does is that I am reading something. Let me also add that whenever I find an African E-book and I get the feeling that the author isn’t aware that people are sharing it as soft copy, I avoid reading it. Authors should earn from their works.”

Eunniah Mbabazi, an author, reader, and confessional writer averred that she prefers paperbacks. “I find them easier to read because I am not struggling with white light from the phone, tablet, or laptop. Also, paperbacks have less distraction. Not to mention that I am building my library where I look forward to being suffocated by the heavenly smell of books.”

Faith Nzama, a voracious reader and book blogger said that she preferred paperbacks. “I love turning the pages & their feel, and I’m building my library, so it’s paperbacks for me! That said, I also like E-books. They’re cheaper and give me the opportunity to read books I wouldn’t otherwise be able to readily access.”

C.J Gicheru, an author, reader, and writer, was iffy about picking sides. “I enjoy the smell and feel of paperbacks. Similarly, I enjoy the ease of softcopies. The thing with me is that I only keep books that I love, or that have nice titles or graphics. Like Ocean Vuong’s, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.”

So, as a reader, “What is your preference – E-book or paperbacks?” Notwithstanding, whichever way your pendulum preference swings, none is wrong, none makes one a lesser reader. it’s a question of preference.

Also read: 10 Reasons Why You Should Make Reading a Daily Habit

Ken Okumu

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