Of late, I’ve discussed this issue with a few friends to figure out which version of the book I should buy. It is the same question that crops up whenever I have a hardcover or a paperback book in my hand. “Why didn’t you read this on a Kindle? It’s cheaper and more efficient.”
Physical Book in Your Hand feels different
I’ve struggled to give a convincing answer for a while. A typical answer in defense of a physical copy is that there’s something visceral about holding a book in your hand and turning an actual page which can’t be matched by a screen. The experience feels different and profoundly fulfilling.
Physical Book Have a Physical Beauty
Craig Mod writes in his essay called “Hacking the Cover” that “The cover image may help quickly ground us, but habit draws our eyes to number and quality of reviews. We’re looking for metrics other than images — real metrics — not artificial marketing signifiers,”. Books have a physical beauty, which always adds as a home furnishing accessory.
Joe Queenan, from a Wall Street Journal, made a fantastic argument in support of the physical copy of the book.
People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, not merely an electronic version, believe that the objects themselves are sacred. Some people may find this attitude baffling, arguing that books are merely objects that take up space. This is true, but so are Prague and your kids and the Sistine Chapel.
Physical Book Ignite Nostalgia
Every book, like a song or a movie, is never heard for the first time, in isolation. You were either at your first job or on vacation, or dating someone special, or going through particular crises – there is always a context within which a person reads a book, listens to a song, or watches a movie. A hardcover or paperback offers you an experience, which becomes a part of you and can never be reproduced.
It isn’t about Efficiency. It is about Experience
There is no doubt that Kindle is a far more efficient way of reading any book. It has annotation tools, interactive content, helps you discover similar books in the genre, a dictionary, Wikipedia at your fingertips, even shared reading experiences. But riddle me this.
Would you watch a 3d spectacle with one of the best visual effects ever created on a cinema screen, which holds its ground even after nine years after its release, called Avatar – on the phone? The general public has figured out the craft of deciding between watching a movie on a big screen or not. Think about it
If you choose to watch a movie on a big screen, then you have to block your time by booking a movie ticket online, drive up there, pay for parking, stand in line for overpriced popcorn and coke, turn off your phone, and then prepare yourself to be immersed in a movie experience for over 2 hours. That is a commitment towards a film, and most people have developed a system to figure out if they wish to make that commitment or not. Watching a movie on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. is merely saying “I’m ok to watch this, but I’ll pause it for a phone call, bathroom break, or a Facebook notification.”
Fiction blockbuster books like Harry Potter or Dan Brown books command a similar level of commitment when they come out. You have to finish the damn thing, so you have to block it all out. If you are cozying up in a blanket with a warm beverage, on a cold winter night with a book which is an absolute page turner – it can’t be on a digital device now, can it?