Why I prefer ebooks

I wrote this comment in Dear Author‘s “Long Live the Content” (13 Sep 2009) thread:

I bought an eReader earlier this year and my preferred book format is now electronic. I have a large portion of my library, including e-versions of the books I already have on paper wherever possible, on a single device that I only need to charge once a week and which only needs a USB cable and a computer or a USB power adapter.

I’ve bought nearly a hundred books which, if they had been paper, would probably have made my house explode from the overload. Or, at the very least, they’d have eventually made their way into one of many unsorted, uncatalogued filing boxes from which they’d be difficult to unearth without a protracted search.

Digital books are easier and cheaper to store and move around. Before I migrated from my previous location to my current one I had to dispose of a third of my book collection and leave behind another third. (To this day I mourn the loss of my Seabury Quinn collection). The balance took up about half the volume, and therefore the cost, of my personal/household effects cargo. International shipping is expensive. If the entire collection had been digital (and DVD writing technology available) at the time, it would have occupied three DVDs at most.

On the community thing: I don’t share my books because they invariably come back to me (if at all) with cracked spines, coffee stains, dog-eared pages, torn covers or any combination thereof. (Okay, there’s one person that I’m willing to lend books to, and he reads graphic novels only). The non-sharing habit extends to e-books, simply because it is a habit.

Reading, for me, is a completely solitary activity. I don’t care to show others what I’m reading, and I don’t want people to strike up conversations with me just because they see the cover of my book — particularly when I’m reading it. An eReader solves all that.

As for formats, DRM, georestrictions? Let’s just say there are technological solutions for that. I think the substantial time I spend on cleanup, formatting, renaming, cataloguing and multiple backups (of books, catalogue data and software) is well justified. And if someone released yet another ebook format tomorrow, there’d be someone else out there, writing a conversion program for it.


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