I am in a serious relationship with paperbacks. Though the memory of how we fell in love is a bit hazy now, it may have been the moldy, vintage smell of new books that got me hooked for life. From age three or probably four and through my teen years, we were almost inseparable. I just have a thing for piles of newspaper or neatly arranged novels on a shelf.
But, technology. With smartphones taking centre stage, I find that I have to cheat on my paperbacks
once in a while almost every time with e-books, and most recently audio-books. Late last year, I came across a free Audible copy of a book I really wanted to read by Jeff and Alyssa Bethke. Audible has this really cool offer where you get your first book for free as a new member, and the authors wanted us to take advantage of it to read their new book, Love that Lasts.
To open an Audible account, I was required to supply my card details but with the option of cancelling the subscription once I’d downloaded the free book. This looked reasonable to me at the time and I immediately jumped at the offer. I made sure to cancel the subscription after I had downloaded the book on the mobile app. The Bethke’s book was awesome to say the least, and I hope to review it someday on this space.
But that’s not the point of this story. One month after, I received a debit alert of about $8 on my Naira MasterCard. What the hell?! I am still thinking it’s one helluva joke when the same thing happens again the following month. It turned out I still had an active account on the app and I was being charged membership fees. For each month I was debited, I got a coin to purchase one book as part of the deal.
At this point, I couldn’t care less about getting any more books, I just wanted to put an end to the debit nightmare. But naija sense prevailed and I decided to use my two coins before cancelling my subscription for good. I purchased Shades of Blue by Kingsbury and Never Let me Go by Ishiguro; both fiction titles.
No one told me that reading, or rather listening to audio-books was going to be such a chore. I struggled to barely finish the Kingsbury book before concluding that this was not my thing at all. A paperback I could finish before nightfall took me more than a week to listen to. I wouldn’t want to sound biased especially if you’re yet to make up your mind on what works for you. So I thought to do a review on the pros and cons of each reading option here.
Pros: Audio books are suitable for people who are not too fond of written words. They are hands-free, making it easier for you to engage in other activities while listening. Besides, you can listen on the go without worrying about how to lug around a 500-page book.
Cons: With audios, you lose the ability to skim, scan or re-read some parts of the book. It’ll be herculean trying to remember where you left off after say, a two months break. And if you’re like me who takes in information by paragraph, you’d have to endure the word by word narration (urrgh!)
Pros: Compared to audios, it’s much easier to skip or make references (and highlight, without being guilty of mutilation!). Currently I have more than a hundred e-books in my smartphone, and my phone doesn’t feel any heavier. Plus it’s the cheapest and most accessible of all three (thanks Xender!).
Cons: Headaches from screen glare are a major downside to using e-books. And battery life, since we do not have 24 hour power supply, yet.
Pros: Nothing comes close to having the physical thing. You can flip back and forth with ease and highlight the parts you want to remember. I personally tend to retain more of what I read in print. Of course, it makes your reading independent of your smartphone’s battery.
Cons: Paperbacks are more expensive than the other options. Take the Bethke’s book I mentioned earlier for an instance. Then the issue of where to keep all the books too!
There are a whole lot of other features of each option that I couldn’t highlight here. For example, I didn’t mention that you can read e-books even in the dark. But at the end of the day, it still boils down to personal preferences and what is convenient at the time.
What’s it for you? One of the options, or a combination?