Tuesday 25 June 2019

Ebooks aren't REAL Books... Are They?

Somebody posted this meme in a readers' group I belong to on Facebook, and I just rolled my eyes and thought "Here we go again...."

I rolled my eyes because images like this always come with this implied declaration: "Digital books aren't books." And, sure enough, the comments came thick and fast, just as I'd predicted: 
  • "Books are better than digital because..."
  • "Digital isn't real reading..."
  • "Those [digital publications] aren't real books."
And just like a few people commented, I'm so sick of this debate. Are you saying that you'd rather people didn't read at all, unless they read books printed on paper?

Let me make this clear:

  • Paper books are books, but I don't read them because my eyes are too bad, plus I find them inconvenient, and cumbersome to lug around.
  • Digital books are books, and I read them exclusively for a host of reasons that I won't get into here, but have explained to death elsewhere.
  • Audiobooks are books, but I don't like them, personally.
  • Books on Microfilm are books
  • Books on papyrus are books
  • Books scratched into bark are books
  • Books on wax tablets are books (even if they probably won't last too long)
  • Books chiselled on stone tablets are books
They're all books. Consume them in whatever format makes you happy. But never state or imply that any of the above are not real books - even with some seemingly innocuous comment like "I prefer books to digital".

What I'm more concerned about, to be honest, is when people use "Kindle" as a generic term for "ebook", because some of those comments were actually written as "Books are better than Kindle because...."

I wish we'd stop doing that; it isn't fair to all the other ebook retailers out there. Kindle isn't the only way to consume ebooks, and Amazon isn't the only company that sells them... hell, they weren't even the first to sell them! I can think of at least ten other companies, many of whom were selling ebooks long before Amazon, but are now defunct, because people wouldn't stop equating "ebook" with "Kindle".

In fact, it's no secret that I think Amazon and their draconian business practices are terrible for the whole industry - particularly with their "Kindle Unlimited" service. I spoke a bit more about that in my post Why I Will No Longer Buy Books From Amazon, If They're in KDP Select / Kindle Unlimited, and then again in Want to Read/Listen to Unlimited Books/Audiobooks, Free for 60 Days?, where I mentioned Scribd as a great alternative (which has actually been around longer than Kindle Unlimited has).

So what do you think? Are ebooks "real books"? How about audiobooks? Let me know your stance and why, in the comments... if you dare.

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