The release this weekend of my second paper back, Morgan, the collected version of the bestselling Morgan trilogy, has got me thinking about the paper books vs ebooks debate.
Before I became a kindle convert, I couldn’t bear the thought of ebooks. All I wanted was paper, paper, paper. As a historian, I was deeply suspicious of anything that didn’t leave a physical trace in the world, and anxious about texts that would disappear if the technology suddenly vanished. I love the feel of a paper book, the smell of a paper book, the fact that I can read it in the bath, on the beach, all of that. I love the way they look on the shelf, the way that you can give them and share them and leave them in cafés for someone else to find.
But then I moved house. I moved house and let me tell you that transporting (literally) hundreds and hundreds of books is heavy and difficult. Besides the fact that last year I had to buy a new bookcase after christmas. Now, in an ideal world, I would live in a giant house, every wall of which would be bookshelves, and I would dance around in my infinite library and never go to work. Since we live in the real world and I simply cannot afford to move to a bigger house just to buy more books, ebooks are a complete godsend. They weigh nothing, they cost 1/3 of a paperback, and I can carry my whole library in my handbag on the train and have an endless choice of reading to pass the time.
I hear a lot of people (colleagues mainly – perhaps a particularly historianesque disease) who don’t read ebooks complaining about how they’re awful, but I imagine that when the printing press was invented there were a lot of people who only read from manuscripts complaining that they, too, were awful. I love ebooks, I love print books – I just want all the books. Anything that means more books and more reading can only be a wonderful thing, in my opinion!