Recently, I was snubbed for reading an ebook over a physical book. Someone came to my Instagram page and in little-to-no words said “No! I like real books not ebooks.”
And that enraged me. Of course, it would enrage me. How can it not?
There’s been some word slinging regarding ebooks and audiobooks….again. Yes, this is a battle between the formats that’s been going on for as long as the Kindle has been invented. The moment someone decided to make books technologically accessible was the moment the Whig party shook out their powdered do’s and started telling people the proper way to read a book.
But the truth is a much better alternative than trying to find space for yet another book on your bookshelf. It’s all about accessibility.
Are you the on-the-go mom that used to read, but can’t seem to find the time? Are you the workaholic who spends their nights posting spreadsheets together and crunching numbers? Are you an Uber driver who can’t read and drive? Do you have poor eyesight or are the tiny words printed too small?
Then ebooks and audiobooks are for you. In a day and age of inclusiveness, publishing is also trying to bring books to more people. That means making sure that anyone in the world despite where they are, who they are, or what might hold them back, gets a chance to read. Providing more accessible ways to read allows for more people to get into the hobby. There isn’t pickets up saying we should ban audiobooks because physical books are better. There’s no competition here. It’s just another method of getting books into the hands of the masses.
Speaking of those masses, let’s discuss them a little while we’re here. Despite the small book community/bubble that I solely live in, outside of this bubble it feels like very few people read. They want to read, but they don’t have the time. They used to read, but something happened and now they don’t. They’ve always wanted to get more into reading, but x, y, and z. There’s numerous reasons as to why books aren’t being read and why only a few books are getting promoted by celebrity book clubs and the like. But this is a bigger conversation for another post.
Having books accessible in different formats allows for books to be read. It’s like publishing is eliminating all the excuses for not reading including taking over Hollywood and turning some of their great novels into movies. It’s like they want you to read even when you’re watching the movie of the book.
But as I mentioned, this isn’t deciding what is best. Physical books aren’t the better choice just because it’s ink and paper. It’s just another option. The same goes for audiobooks and ebooks. Audiobooks allows for people who can’t sit down and read to read on the go. You can adjust the speed of your reading and even set timers so your book can turn itself off if you fall asleep. Ebooks allows for people to carry numerous books in a single device. If you’re a heavy traveler, you can easily carry all the books you need on an e-reading device. There’s even ereaders for Barnes and Noble and independent booksellers and you can buy audiobooks through Libro.fm and support your local booksellers at the same time. Folks in the world want you to read and they’ll provide as many ways as they can that even support indie bookstores!
I think the biggest thing to remember is that ebooks and audiobooks help folks with sight issues read. Folks who have sight issues can listen to audiobooks or adjust the font size on their e-readers bringing the magic of books to those who physically can’t see them. We’re creating a word where disabled folks can enjoy reading as well.
Shaming folks for reading in other formats really makes no sense. That’s like saying what’s the better utensil to eat mac and cheese? Is it a fork or is it a spoon? The answer is that it’s player’s choice. The answer is that there is no answer because this is a nonsense question. Making reading accessible to everyone is the future especially in a world where books and reading used to be a way to keep people of color ignorant and stupid.
So if you’re in that elite group of literary folks who snub their nose on a Kindle or purse your lips at someone who chooses to listen to their books than use their eyes, then all I can say is this; your snobbery is not welcome. Perhaps instead of being such a naysayer, you can give audiobooks or ebooks a try. You’ll find the accessibility a little too hard to deny.