The Death Of The Hardback

Whatever will happen to libraries, to hand me down books and to our colourful bookshelves filled with years of fiction and non-fiction? Probably the same thing that happened to photos when digital cameras became accessible to the masses and to music when Apple launched the Ipod. We will end up with yet another digital library.

The Telegraph reported yesterday that ebook sales in the UK had overtaken hardback books since the launch of the UK Kindle stores last year in August.

We are quite slow in our household to move with the times. My husband still plays records and likes the CD piles. We love flicking through photo albums and our house is full of bookshelves with books which anyone of us can have access to whenever we want. Our own personal library is full of our own history and says a lot about the people we are, our personalities and interests. I personally love the fact that our children are surrounded by books and can see, touch, feel and smell them.

Moreover, I love browsing in bookshops musing from aisle to aisle as I choose my books to buy. I do not get the same sense or feeling when I shop online for books.

I can, however, see the appeal of ebooks. Its easy access to a fantastic library at your fingertips saves a hell of a lot time and carrying those heavy books around does make your shoulders ache. But still, for me, there is nothing like opening a book and hearing the crisp pages turn as you read.

The other day I asked a friend if I could borrow the book she was reading. Unfortunately, it was on her Kindle. I guess ebooks are not for sharing.



9 Comments to “The Death Of The Hardback”

  1. Bunty, I totally agree with you, I love having books around me, they are a reflection of you, and they are reminders of different times in your life and the experiences you have had. In my house there are books everywhere! I love browsing through libraries – the bigger the better. I cannot get over the excitement when I open a book for the first time, the feel of the paper, crisp and warm, the smell of the pages, like knowledge is waiting to be poured out of it into me. But that is just me!

    Books are also so important for children and the younger they get access to them the better, it encourages in a child the development of their imagination and their creative skills are heightened by free access to books. This does set them up for life ahead and the appreciation of books.

    Ebooks are unfortunately taking over the literary world, but even though our household is very technically savvy, I refuse to have an ebook reader, just does not appeal to me. I think I, and society in general, spends too much time in front of a screen, computer, laptop, TV that to then have to read something on yet another one is rather worrying, and it can’t be great for your eyes either!

  2. Times are changing. Everything is being done in a more technologically advanced way, and I think we should stop cutting down millions of trees every year just so that we can turn a book which starts life in electronic format, into something people are nostalgic about.

    And just think of all that extra space we’d have in our cramped London flats if it weren’t for all the books we store. Ok, so that’s not really a problem if you have a big house, but it my head, it’s still hoarding.

    There are only a few things I dont like about ereaders. If you’re midway through a book and the battery dies, I can imagine that would be pretty annoying. It would be good for textbooks as you can’t write on the pages, but I’m sure technology will catch up on that. And lastly, when I’ve read a good book, I always give it to someone to read – I have very few books, I give them all away. In my view I haven’t broken any copyright laws because I’ve not lent it to someone, I’ve given it to them for free and don’t expect it to be returned. You can’t do this with ereaders due to quite strict application of the copyright.

    Despite this, I still go with my green agenda. Let’s stop the printing of countless rubbish books (which end up shredded by the publishing houses because they don’t sell). I think as standard, we should move to ebooks. And maybe the realyl good books could be printed on paper in limited edition copies to keep the hardback lovers happy?

    • Book lover, I hear your point about the green agenda. However, I do feel when looking at the environmental agenda you have to consider all aspects of the environment and that is its social, economic and natural impacts. To move to an ebook society and rid publishing paper books would have a negative impact on forests globally. It would lead to greater poverty which in turn would lead to illegal logging and this would damage our environment, the eco system and the natural habitat for wildlife and communities far greater than publishing books.

      There is a general consensus amongst timber regulators that a commercial product is the best way to manage sustainable forests and communities. Of course there will be those who choose ebooks over books for space saving issues as you have highlighted or simply because they prefer it that way, however, to ensure forestation remains sustainable, more publishers need to be using certified paper. It is great to see some of the larger companies such as Egmont and Random House employing paper policies and others are following.

  3. My sister loves her kindle as she can read in bed without lighting and has hundreds of book stored in it.

    I agree there is nothing like a private library though it is one of the key things that makes a house a home – a bookshelf crammed with your life in literature. From forced purchases due to set texts in English lessons to airport trash for holiday and gifts received from friends every physical book is attached to a memory.

  4. I used to be very Radio 4 about ebooks and like bhabiji couldn’t understand why anyone would favour a screen over the feel and smell and enjoyment of opening a new book.

    Then a kindle was given to me as a gift and trust me, they are amazing! The screen looks like a paper page in a book so you do not feel like it’s a screen.I have a cover with a light so I can read in the dark. I have around 500 books stored on it. It is so light for travelling around London. My kindle takes the same charger as my phone and I can also charge it on a pc/laptop. Also, if you come across a word or phrase that is unfamiliar you just tap it and the incredible kindle will tell you what it means!

  5. Vakeel Bibi would you buy a physical copy of the book and carry it on your kindle or do you think it’s unnecessary?

    I hate when friends and family don’t return books and it’s awkward to refuse to lend them. A friend of mine used to tell people who wanted to borrow his books to just take them as he was never going to get them back! I guess a kindle would make that easier to handle.

  6. Hmm good question – at the moment I am reading a fantastic book on my kindle but I want to see it on my bookshelf so that when people come round to my flat and see it they will realise how amazingly clever I am to own and have read such a wonderful book. What a sad life I lead.

    However, I haven’t yet bought a book that is on my kindle but it’s only a matter of time as I love to be surrounded by books. I have six large shelves in my living room and my partner only gets to use one shelf for his rubbish economics and fitness books (the latest one being “written” by LL Cool J) and you’re right Bubbly, I love the nostalgia many of my books envoke – the Kindle will surely kill that feeling!

  7. And.. did you all know that you can press a button that makes a voice read out a book to you Stephen Hawkings style?

    It is hilarious – on very bored nights, we have been known to put it on and make the weird voice read out Jurassic Park to us. Sad, indeed.

  8. Vakeel Bibi, that is so funny. I am liking the lightweight easy to carry a library of books that are available for me to read anywhere, anyhow. I think I would be a kindle owner who has to buy some books too.

    I often buy books (especially novels) from Oxfam or other charity shops and then give them back to the charity. Kindle is a loss of income for them too.

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