Ebook Curmudgeonry

I should love ebooks. My home isn’t exactly spacious, so anything that takes up zero space should be pretty amazing, right?

Hell, I used to argue passionately that the medium didn’t matter, that the tactile sensation of turning pages was not what made a story a good experience. People who preferred physical books were just being nostalgic. When I did finally jump on the bandwagon, I was thrilled at the idea of having a huge library in my hands wherever I took my tablet.

Then I noticed that I kind of hate reading ebooks.

It was a realization that snuck up on me — I read some amazing books in that format, and the impact of the stories were not affected by swiping a screen instead of flipping pages.

But some stuff just sucked.

If I’m reading while tired, there’s a good chance that I will space out for several paragraphs, or even multiple pages, and want to flip back a bit just to make sure I didn’t gloss over something important. If I’m reading while alert, I might recall something that happened several chapters back and want to jump to it just to skim it again in case any details seem relevant to the section I’m reading. Fantasy novels will often have a map and a glossary that I want to reference.

Ebooks do a terrible job simulating flipping around. There’s no digital equivalent to sticking your finger in the current page and eyeballing the page you want to read. You have to mess with bookmarks and submenus and things that remind you that you’re using a tiny computer.

And then there are the formatting issues. Every now and then I run into an entire italicized paragraph when it’s clear that only one or two words were supposed to be italicized. Sometimes it’s boxes showing up instead of non-English characters. Pictures always seem to be weirdly aligned.

I also noticed that I tend to forget that I have ebooks, so they go unread. Physical books get in the way — they clutter my desk and fill my shelves, constantly demanding that I acknowledge them. I read them and pass them on.

Anyway, I’ve decided that it’s time to embrace my inner curmudgeon and admit that I prefer dead-tree versions of books.

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