Print books > ebooks
by Angelina Zervos
You know what? I’m just going to say it: print books are better than ebooks. Before you call me a tree-killing baby boomer monster, hear me out. Ebooks have eased many of the frustrations college students have to deal with when taking multiple classes, but at the same time they can be just as impractical as print books.
Most of my argument stems from my preference to have physical copies of practically anything I can get my hands on, and I know I’m not the only one. I use a physical planner (I’m sure every die-hard Google Calendar user just cringed), I have my bills mailed to me, and I ask for a printed receipt for large purchases. God, I sound like my father. I simply find it a lot easier to organize myself when I have all the paperwork in front of me. I’ve tried digitizing these parts of my daily routine, but I just can’t seem to stay on top of things when they’re all contained on my phone; I tend to be more thorough when I have the print in front of me. I mean, why do you think credit card companies are constantly urging their users to “go paperless” and opt for online statements? Is it because they’re concerned about the environment, or is it because they know your e-mail is filled with way too many promotional messages from Forever 21 and that place you did a spin class one time for you to even check your charges? When I have it all in front of me, I don’t forget my appointments, I’m not late on any payments, and I have a better sense of the money I’m spending.
This goes for schoolwork too. When I have the physical copy of a reading or textbook in front of me, 9 times out of 10 I’m more likely to read it thoroughly. I can underline, highlight, and jot notes in the margins. Yes, you have the ability to do these things in ebooks, but doing them physically makes all the difference, it makes me feel more like an active reader. When I read an essay or textbook chapter online, I’m just not as invested. Maybe it’s because I equate the flow of text to scrolling through long-winded Instagram captions and end up getting bored. Plus, there always seems to be an open tab at the top of my screen that keeps inviting me to watch its content. Maybe I can listen to some videos play in the background, I tell myself, before I begin my three-hour expedition into the weird side of YouTube.
I know what you’re thinking, not only am I an easily-distracted student unwilling to adapt to modern technology, but I’m also quite wasteful; I’d rather kill poor, unsuspecting trees for my own personal use than figure out how to highlight PDFs. However, in my defense, I always opt for used or pre-owned books. Not only are they cheaper and don’t require manufacturers to make extra copies, but they can sometimes contain lots of useful notes from the previous owner (if you’re lucky). There are lots of great websites that provide used books for way less than the retail price and participate in recycling programs, which brings me to my next point: all of your old readings and essays can be recycled! That is, unless you wish to archive them in your personal library for some casual reading sometime in the future… The popular myth that recycling really does nothing to benefit the environment has been disproved time and time again. Paper can be recycled multiple times!
Lastly, some other disadvantages of ebooks: unless you have them downloaded to your computer, you will not be able to access them without internet connection, which is especially true for online activities that accompany the text, photocopies of texts that are uploaded by professors can become extremely blurry and illegible (these documents are also difficult to highlight and underline digitally), and finally, THEY HURT MY EYES! Staring at a screen for hours on end, especially if you’re migraine-prone and sensitive to light, can put a lot of strain on your eyes and leave you feeling drained.
I know it’s no fun to carry around a ton of books when you can easily store them all in one place, I know it’s more eco-friendly to go paperless, and I know there are lots of people who prefer digital versions to print, but I think traditional books deserve some slack. I find them to be great learning tools, and I hope they continue to be used in classroom settings for a long time to come.