Ebook or Paper? You Decide!

Every now and again, the ‘battle’ between ebooks and paper books rears its head again, in the columns of media outlets with slow news days on their hands.  I think, as I have always thought, that it’s kind of silly, so I wrote a silly thing in response.  If silly is your jam, I think you’ll enjoy it.  🙂

Ladieeees and Gentledudes!  It’s here!  What you’ve all been waiting for!

The stoush of the century, the showdown to beat all showdowns, the take-no-prisoners death match of all time!

In the red corner, we have the champion, the old faithful, the never-beaten, bastion of taste and quality, the protector of all that is good in storytelling, the… PRINT BOOK!

And in the blue corner, the upstart challenger, the take-on-all-comers, cheap and cheerful bringer of the apocalypse the… E-BOOK!

It’s going to be an epic battle, one for the ages, so settle in and…

“Excuse me…”

The man with the microphone halted abruptly, startled into silence by a tug on his sleeve.  He wouldn’t normally have been put off his stride by a trifle, but this was no normal tug.  The hand on his sleeve was made of words.  Or, more accurately, one word.  The word ‘hand’, swelled in some places and twisted in others to make a workable finger and opposable thumb.  It was supported by the word ‘arm’, elongated to cover the distance between him and the screen of the e-reader in the blue corner.

He rubbed his eyes, but the hand didn’t go away.  Then he heard the voice again.

“I think you might be misrepresenting our relationship.”

There could be no mistake.  The voice was coming from the e-reader.

“You can talk?”

The E-book dissolved its arm and bent a new string of words into the shape of a mouth blowing a raspberry.

“You expect us to fight, but you are surprised that we can talk?  We are made of words, after all!”

The man spun around, only to find that the second voice was coming from the dignified hard-back in the red corner.

“Well, of course you can fight, you’re natural enemies,” he replied, feeling that he needed to get the conversation back on track.  The fact of the conversation he refused to think about until there was a lot more vodka available.

“But why would we be?”  The paper book wrinkled its spine, as if perplexed.  “We’re not so different from each other.  We’re both keepers of stories.  Of course, we have some different characteristics.  She’s lighter, for a start– ”

“She?  The e-book is a she?”  The man in the centre of the ring didn’t know his voice could go that high.

The paper book straightened its spine to its full height.

“What, you think all stories are male?”

“No, of course not, I just…” The man took a deep breath and forced his voice down into its normal register.  “But you, surely… I mean, you’re a guy, right?”

The paper book took on a slightly rosy tint about the end papers, but answered with dignity.

“Actually, I like to think of myself as genre-queer.  You can call me Pbook.”

Ebook spun together several sentences, so she could reach around and pat Pbook on the cover blurb.  “I see what you did there,” she whispered.  “I like the way you word, Pbook.”

“But – look!”  The man pulled at his collar.  “You can’t say she’s the same as you.  Look at what she just said!  She said she ‘liked the way you word’!  That’s not even a sentence!  She has no standards!  She’s too cheap to have standards!  She’s just not… not… not as good as you.”

PBook flapped open a cover and patted the man kindly on the arm.

“Careful, man, I think your bias is showing.  It’s not that she doesn’t have standards.  They’re just different from yours.  She’s a bit more… let me think of a word that will work for you… hip.  She’s flexible and up-to-the-minute and so probably uses a bit more modern slang.  But that’s what her readers like.  Some of them, anyway.  And some of them like Dickens, but they want to read it on their phones.  Or some of them like all sorts of books but don’t want to cut down as many trees as would be needed to satisfy their insatiable appetites.  And frankly, no matter how it pains you, they all like cheap.  So they go to her.”

The man sank to the floor of the ring, cradling his forehead in his hands.

“And sometimes,” Ebook added, stretching the word ‘sympathy’ to pat the man on his bowed head, “they want to hold the story and keep it and tuck it under their pillow at night and look at its pretty cover on their bookshelf in the long winter evenings.”

“Or they want to read in the bath,” Pbook offered.

“Or they want to read in the bath without using a zip-lock bag,” Ebook agreed graciously.  “Or they want the author to write on it with a real pen.  And then they buy a Pbook.  Although sometimes,” she lowered her voice to a whisper so as not to hurt his feelings, “they keep an ebook version of the story as well.”

The man looked up, suspiciously red around the eyes.

“So what you’re saying is that you’re not really enemies?”

They both inclined towards him in what was unmistakably a nod.

“There’s no reason for people to choose between you?  They can have and enjoy both?”

They nodded again, so vigorously that Pbook was in considerable danger of falling flat on its handsome face.

“But what about my fight?  What am I going to tell my audience?”

They all turned to look out of the ring, but nobody looked back.  The audience was too busy reading.

So, what do you think?  Do you have to have a preference?  Or can you be an equal opportunity reader?  Tell me!  Reveal your passions!  I have a fight promoter who’s down a show and could do with the excitement…

Copyright © Imelda Evans 2017


13 thoughts on “Ebook or Paper? You Decide!

  1. This week a friend and I ordered the same book, same price! Hers in print, mine an ebook. While she is currently jealous that I can read it first, we will soon be on a beach; where a book in the hand is worth a million on a device!

  2. Heh. Love it. I’ve got a house overfull with paper books, and a Kindle stuffed with ebooks. I love both, but having done some book clearing out this past week, it’s lovely to know that the Kindle books will never have to be passed on to make room for others. So what am I reading at the moment? A paper book! But the next might be on Kindle. Long may they both reign. At ease, fight promoter.

    • Yes! I still really like paperbacks, but the realities of shelf space mean I am increasingly fond of the e-form. Can’t ignore the realities of cost, either! Lovely to see you, Malvina!

  3. Wonderful little tale, and I agree with you 100%. I love Ebook and Pbook. Awesome when they turned to see the crowd were all busy reading. Reading is great. Who care if it’s paper on screen…not me. Nice work, Imelda.

    • Thank you, DA, you’re such a love! I’m with you. I’ve always been willing to read anything, down to and including cereal boxes, so I’m not going to balk at the words being on a screen!

  4. Dear Imelda,
    I have read both of your books on the “E”. They were wonderful experiences.
    Had your books been available in print, I would have bought them.
    I think they are worth collecting & I am very fond of my book collection.
    -Resa xx

    Having said thtt, i think all romance lovers should read your books… ⭐

  5. TBH, have come and gone and going back again. Thought e was pretty good. Loved the all the many in the one. Which is great when travelling. After looking at a screen all day tho’ I was beginning to get a little sick of grabbing at another screen and hummed over he choice of paperbook as the choice…. but have since returned to the e and have become happily re-acquainted…. Tis what it is I guess.

    Thanks for another great post.

    • I have had a very similar journey. I go on and off the e-form. But the ability to have many books without actually dying from an avalanche of the physical form will probably always keep me coming back!

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