When eBooks first exploded onto the scene near a decade ago (yes, it’s been a long time, we know) there were people that said that paperbacks would fall by the wayside like cassettes did in the wake of CDs, but that hasn’t happened.
Much like the Blu-ray and DVD – eBooks and paperback books continue to co-exist alongside each other. In fact, if you’re an author that doesn’t have paperback books, many people will turn scornful looks in your direction. The reason for this is that we simply love paperbacks. We love physically holding books and the joy that comes from turning the pages, feeling the texture of the cover and the scent that books have.
In the Library in Doctor Who, thousands of years in the future, the books were all paperbacks (granted they had a rather deadly other side to them, but that’s sort of getting away from our point) – there is something about reading a paperback that satisfies something in us that digital books can’t quite compete with.
That isn’t to say that eBooks are bad, far from it, eBooks have allowed people to try reading new authors for little to no outward cost. For authors with extensive catalogues, readers are able to purchase all of their work without having to sell their first born to pay for all the titles. There are even many readers out there that will buy an eBook and then choose to purchase the paperbacks afterwards.
But what is it about paperbacks that mean even with the cost and size elements being solved by eBooks, we still want our paperbacks?
We’ve been wrestling with this question for a few days now (well since C.S. Woolley brought it up when she came back from the CEO Sleepout in Nottingham) and we think we have an answer.
Reading a paperback is an experience. There is something tangible in the book you are holding, the bookmark that saves your place, the notes that you scribble alongside parts of the text, the stains where you have spat out your tea in shock, the thumbprints where the paper has been dented because you were gripping the books so hard, the smell that is as welcoming as a roaring fire. We love paperbacks because they bring books to life for us in a way that digital copy just can’t quite compete with and give us something to throw when we are frustrated, cuddle when we’re upset and drop in the bath when we’re not paying quite enough attention.