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Print vs. eBook

eBooks: the scourge of the printed word, the death of literature, and the end of publishing as we know it. Their rise to power was quick and brutal, and it was clear these monstrous text files would irrevocably shatter the reading world forever.

Except that they didn’t. A few years back, with the arrival of Amazon’s Kindle and other tablet devices, eBooks quickly shot up to a little over a quarter of the market share of total books. It looked like this new way of reading would erode the print book market entirely – but it didn’t. It topped out there, where it has remained steadily for the last few years.

Why is that? Well basically because books are awesome. Everyone loves books – there is nothing like holding a printed book in your hands, smelling its pages, and feeling its weight while you lie back and launch yourself into a new world. Reading a physical book is an entirely different experience to the colder world of tablet reading, and it’s this experience that keeps bringing readers back for more.

That said, eBooks definitely have their purposes. Like travel – gone are the days when you have to travel with 17kg of books in your checked luggage. Now you can carry a journey’s worth of books all in your carry-on. You also have every book you need right at your fingertips. If you’ve just seen a book you like the look of and want to rip right in, you can have it delivered to you in a matter of seconds. This is particularly great if your nearest bookshop is a long drive away, you’re a parent and need a quick time-out from the kids, or for non-fiction, when you’re on a mission to learn as much as you can about a subject immediately. Plus, eBooks are cheaper!

Print books and eBooks are just different formats to experience the same thing: great stories and written communication. It doesn’t matter if the writing is scrawled on the side of a cave, unravelled on a scroll, printed and bound in a factory or in a .zip file of simple text HTML documents delivered to your phone. The important thing is that the words are accessible, and with both print and eBooks thriving, everybody wins.