How the eBook Revived Our Love for Literature
By: Tahar Rajab
It seems as if a very silent revolution is transpiring before our very eyes. To witness it unfold, one needs to simply look up the next time they’re seated on a train. That is if their attention isn’t already occupied by a piece of wonderful literature of course. You see, Great Britain is being transformed into a book reading nation and – if stats are anything to go by – it’s all thanks to the eBook.
Men lie, numbers don’t. Therefore, the statistics behind eBook and hardcover books, along with reading preferences amongst the younger generation, is telling. EBook sales grew by a whopping 177% last year, with 53% of those who bought eBook readers proclaiming that they now read more books than they ever did before.
Perhaps the most crucial statistic however, lies within 50% of kids saying they want to read an eBook, with one third claiming they would read more with eBooks. Now as previously mentioned, ‘men lie, numbers don’t’, and so on that understanding (and after replacing ‘men’ with ‘kids’ of course), it may very be that these children wouldn’t read more with eBooks and are generally simply fibbing about their desire to read an electronic book. However, as such stats are all we have to go by, one would be correct in assuming that the upcoming generation is one with a rekindled (no pun intended) literature love affair.
The eBook has transformed lives and the way we approach literature. How it has done so, is really quite simple. Having the capability to do something spurs desire for it to be done. This is the case with the eBook, which by providing users with potentially hundreds of different titles to choose from in one device, stimulates the will to read.
Another reason can be found in the enormous gulf that once existed between books and technology. This can be better explained as a gap between the young and the old; between a generation that grew up with literature as a leading form of entertainment, to one that found leisure in technological advances, such as CD or mp3 players and handheld game consoles. With literature now being available on the latest technological handheld devices, this chasm is no longer, and both sides are now merged together.
Is All Rosy?
However, perhaps there is a detrimental side effect to the rise in eBook popularity. For every 100 hardcover books sold by Amazon, the website flogs 143 eBooks. EBooks are thus seemingly replacing hardcover works and Open PDFs replacing paper pages. This could result in a weaker emotional bond between readers and pieces of literature. It happened with music. The ability to contain mass amounts of music on mp3 devices, hindered the attachment listeners once felt to the music through a physical representation, like a CD. Literature lovers of my generation will surely agree with the logic that a hardcover book, with its fresh smell and untouched pages, brought with it an inexplicably affectionate sensation. That feeling cannot be reciprocated with eBooks.
After Considerable Thought
The renewed love for literature is most certainly a good thing and an unsung positive association with the upcoming generation. However, whether an eBook is a better source for written material is a completely different debate. Perhaps the whole idea of requiring an emotional bond with a book is rather illogical and ignorant of the fact that such bonds are made while reading the actual text, not by holding the work in one’s hand. However, whether reading off a screen is healthier for the eyes and brain is also a matter that needs conclusive research (much has been analysed though, at the moment; the results of different studies are contradictory). Thus for the moment, the conclusion is that due to things still being fresh and findings being inconclusive, further results are awaited in order to form a sound conclusion. You might need to re-read that last sentence several times, and maybe even print it off into paper form to understand it!
About the author: Tahar Rajab is a British freelance writer with a philosophical outlook