I read an article lately about a library that has been offering e-books as part of its repertoire in addition to regular print copies. This seems to play into that fierce and ongoing debate around e-books vs print, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it. I’d love to hear yours too!
On the one hand, I love print books. There’s not much that’s more satisfying than seeing a neat row of my favourites all lined up on the bookshelf and that goes double for some of the more ornamental copies that crop up from time to time. But, as I’ve discussed before, I just don’t have enough space to keep all of my books in print format – only my favourites. And I bet libraries have this problem too. Using e-books for some of their titles could allow them to hold a much wider range. No more waiting for them to order in a book for the next town over and no more waiting for the person before you to return their copy. That was the worst in university – there would be 20 or so people waiting for the same textbook to reappear at the library so we could avoid paying such extortionate prices.
So, on the whole, I think it’s a good thing to bring e-books into the picture for some titles, but there is always the danger that print books might start to disappear in exchange. Of course, there will always be historically significant pieces that no library in their right mind would get rid of, but even for the regular old paperbacks, it would be a shame to see those rows of shelves disappear and be replaced by another coffee shop. But maybe I’m just biased because I don’t like coffee very much. I’m a tea person.
So, what do you make of this proposal? Good news or bad news?