Traditional Vs Ebook

What’s the difference between reading A Tale of Two Cities from your good old traditional printed book and from your electronic reader on your laptop? I mean you’re reading the same words, and the same story by the same author, right? It can’t be the pixels that have replaced the printed ink. Actually, it’s much more than that.

No one can deny the benefits of the traditional friendly book. You can take it on the beach without worrying that sand would infiltrate its pages. You can slip it in your tiny purse to keep you company whenever you go. You can take it to bed without worrying about it hitting the ground if you sleep off. You don’t have to worry about its battery dying off or the constant absence of a plug. You can spill coffee and food on it without worrying about its electric wires fusing. You can read it for hours on end without suffering the eye soaring fatigue that usually comes along online reading. According to software programmers, the navigation of the traditional book is “simple” and “more intuitive”.

“You can flip through real pages much more quickly and flexibly than you can through virtual pages. And you can write notes on a book’s margin or highlight passages that move or inspire you” (Carr)[3].

And above all, the traditional book shields the reader from all the surrounding distractions in an online environment.

What about the eBook? As I mentioned earlier, it’s not only the black ink transformed into pixels on a back lit screen. So where is the exigency for an eBook? We can examine one of the most popular eBook readers: Amazon’s Kindle which targets millions of bookworms as an audience. Kindle was launched in 2007, it wasn’t simply the same words presented electronically; it was a revolutionary innovation which changed drastically what a book was. The Kindle does not only include all the most advanced screen technology but it also has a built in wireless internet access available all the time and included in the one-time fees of purchasing the Kindle. As the video below shows, the Kindle allows you to shop for books online, download them instantly,

“read books, magazines, newspapers and blogs anywhere and anytime”.

It also uses a kind of technology that eliminates the eye strain that results from focusing on a PC screen for too long and it saves the page where you stopped reading so that you can pick up where u left off afterwards. The costs of a book are under 9.99$ and everything you buy is backed up at Amazon just in case you lost something, its battery lasts for days without the need to be charged every few hours. Moreover, it allows you to look up words in an integrated dictionary, highlight sentences and bookmark pages. Kindle’s capacity allows it to hold

“hundreds of pounds of reading material under one small package”.

It also includes many links which can take the reader to different related pages on the web.


Clearly Kindle lets the reader enjoy all the features in a traditional book and much more, maybe even too much more. This is probably the reason that e-Books accounted for 35% of Amazon’s total book sales in 2009 and that the number of e-Books sold will rise from 1 million in 2008 to an estimation of 12 million in 2010 (Carr)[3]. Debbie Stier, a senior vice president of Harper studios encourages the addition of extra features in eBooks,

“We need to take advantage of the medium and create something dynamic to enhance the experience. I want links and behind the scenes extras and narration and video and conversation”[2]

she adds. She believes that the expansion of all the above features in eBooks would provide a better and more exciting learning experience. In an article called How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write, the author Steven Johnson explains some of the implications that e-Books might inflict on the practice of reading. He sheds the light on the ease of finding information that will result from the instant searchability features of online books, every word in every book will become searchable.

“Expect ideas to proliferate — and innovation to bloom — just as it did in the centuries after Gutenberg”[4]

he adds. He claims that something like a “booklog” might appear which would become like a global book club for readers to comment on passages and sentences in books. Reading will become a communal activity rather than an individual practice. However, the author Steven Johnson expressed his concerns regarding eBooks; he said that they would change the way we read and write drastically. He also expressed his fear that this innovation could suck one of the biggest joys of reading, that immersion in the story, in the words and the author’s created worlds and that reading books would gain the habit of

“a little bit here, a little bit there”[4]

In an article called the Bookless Future, the historian David Bell tells his experience with reading a book online which confirms Johnson’s fears. He described difficulty of keeping focus or recalling the information.

“I find it remarkably hard to concentrate. I scroll back and forth, search for key words and interrupt myself even more often than usual to refill my coffee cup, check my e-mail, check the news… a week later I find it remarkable hard to remember what I have read”[1]

Clearly e-Books do offer endless possibilities for learning which is sometimes the reason why they lack the single feature that traditional books have over them: the seclusion and the quietness that the traditional book offers, and the immersion in the words that makes one lose track of the time.

1. Bell, David. "The Bookless Future." The University of Michigan Press. 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 7 May 2011. <>.
2. Boog, Jason. "HarperStudio Re-Enters Digital Book Pricing Debate." GalleyCat-The First Word on Book Publishing Industry. 2 Mar. 2009. Web. 5 May 2011. <>.
3. Carr, Nicholas G. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. Print.
4. Johnson, Steven. "How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write." The Wall Street Journal - Technology. 20 Apr. 2009. Web. 6 May 2011. <>.