The Pros and Cons of Paper Books

A week back I wrote a post about how times are a-changing once again and how paper books may not be a part of the distant future (think 2050). Today I shall be tackling the first part of the equation – books made of bound paper and ink and their worth.

So to start things off, let’s look at all the brilliant things books do for us:-

Companions for Life

I am a Bengali (follow the link if you do not know what a Bengali is) and our culture is centered on two very important things – knowledge and the Arts. We love everything creative, everything passionate, and everything that broadens our minds and expands our views of life.

That’s why books factor majorly in our culture. In fact our love for books is so deeply ingrained that every single Bengali household has at least one library they are proud of.

Therefore, it doesn’t take a stretch to figure out that even though I am currently residing in a hostel my room has its own library. And yes, my collection makes a mockery of my father’s (because half the books back home are also mine as I bought them out of my pocket money).

booksTop shelf is mine and the bottom my friend/roommate’s

BedsideMy bed’s permanent book stashing area

Needless to say books are very important to me and one of the things on my 101 List of Goals is to have a floor-to-ceiling library when I buy my dream house.

Books Make Us Smart (sometimes street smart)

And that’s a no-brainer when you talk about books on science, technology, blah blah. But only passionate readers are the ones who know the secret hidden in fiction books. The secret of life and living, of hardships and endurance, of courage and triumph, etc.

The Mate Checklist

I used to scoff at the idea of girls having checklists before they date a guy. And I still do at most of them because they are highly superficial (tall, dark and handsome is too clichéd for my taste). But checklists are a wonderful tool for progressive ladies because we do not want a mate who will grab our feet as we climb the ladder of success. And books give us the points on the list.


By portraying the perfect man. Okay, maybe not the perfect man (because perfection is BORING!) but all I ever wanted was a man like Alex Rider.

alex rider

The Smell of Bound Paper

Ever sniffed a new book? I have and it makes me ecstatic. It is better than the aroma of freshly ground coffee. Even better than the scent of the earth after a rain.

Easy to Add Notes

Try doing that with an eBook and you will realize how irritating it is to open footnotes and type in your thoughts when a simple pencil scribble on the margins would suffice in a paper book. Of course, I never do that so it’s of no consequence to me but most people are not so pristine about their collections.

Great Conversation Starters

The one thing that is guaranteed to make you a new (and possibly good) friend is if the two of you share the same taste in books. Makes sense, doesn’t it, because we are attracted to those stories that ring with our own personalities.

As for parties, if things start to get boring just start the conversation on books. You will be astonished how fast time flies before you are done debating whether Shakespeare was amazing or an author who needs to loosen up a bit.

But books have a serious disadvantage when it comes to eBooks. These are the reasons why:-

1. Books are heavy.

No. Don’t give me the argument of a thin paperback until you have read The Lord of the Rings.

2. Books take up a lot of space.

It’s not enough that they have taken over my room but they even take over half my airbag when I am returning from a vacation.

I bought four books in Goa last year just because we spotted an exhibition selling books for 100 rupees (to raise money for charity). Thank God we had the sense to go there on the last day otherwise our backpacking trip would have become cumbersome for me.

3. We chop off our lungs to feed our brains.

What I mean by that is we are causing massive deforestation for paper. And besides causing a lot of air pollution, the production of paper also creates tonnes of waste that is dumped into water bodies and landfills.

Not a great idea considering the fact that pretty soon polar bears will have to turn aquatic.

4. Transportation and Storage

If you are an online book buyer like me then you will know why this is a problem. Sometimes you cannot wait the three days it takes for the courier company to reach your doorstep.

But beside that on a larger scale transporting books to stores all over the world requires merchant vessels and airplanes, and they do not come cheap.

As for how books impact writers…

5. Publishing is a risky business.

If your book isn’t up to the mark, editors won’t even give it a second glance before it lands on the slush pile. This is because publishers invest a lot of money when they get an author under their contract. That’s why if the book doesn’t sell after they have ordered a million copies (I am exaggerating a bit here) they go berserk.

I cannot think of any more problems when it comes to paper books, so if you know more do share it in the comments’ section below. I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Anyway, that’s it for today. Stay tuned for the next post as it will deal in detail about eBooks and their future. Till then, have fun.


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2 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Paper Books

  1. I’m quite happy with my Kindle. I know some fancy people keep talking about the magical authentic feel of paper-based books, but I’m a techie, so I fully embrace the world where we don’t chop down trees for books (instead, we create a lot of plastic and electronic components, so either way we’re dooming the planet).

    • The “green-ness” of eBooks as compared to paper books is scheduled to appear in the next post. You hit the right argument. 🙂

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