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My Mixed Feelings about Re-Discovering Digital Libraries and E-Books

When I was about 10 years old, I was the comical picture of a short kid checking out a stack of over five books from my local library. I’d read through all of the books in less than two weeks—probably closer to just one week—then be back at the library selecting more books again. I’d browse through the tall shelves for as long as my parents let me. Sometimes, I had specific books in mind. Other times, I’d randomly grab a book, read the summary and decide whether I wanted to take it or not. I don’t know how, but all of that changed.

I always loved buying books, but I’m not quite sure when I stopped going to my library and began buying every single book I wanted instead. For a while, I even held a digital library card so I could borrow books from the E-Reader my grandparents bought me. Even then, I preferred to buy the books from the online store. Once my E-Reader died, so did my library card and bank account.

It’s gotten to the point where my to be read (TBR) pile is upwards of 50 books in several bins in my bedroom, yet I still keep buying more. There are many reasons why many others and I love print books. I love the touch of the book; it may sound weird, but I love the feel of my nails scraping down the page of a book. I love physically owning the book to keep forever in my someday library. The list could go on, but the most important thing is that I’m a proud book hoarder. This could be good or bad.

I do love the idea behind e-books. Only a few months ago, a fellow HC at Geneseo contributor wrote about why she loved e-books. I can see her points. Books are really expensive and take up a lot of space. They also kill trees. Yet, as someone who recently bought blue light glasses because I’m always staring at screens due to remote learning, there could be some downsides.

So, based on all the evidence I provided about why I love buying print books, why would I find my old library card and start reading e-books off the digital library? Why would I borrow books when I have over 50 in my TBR pile at home and at least 10 in my off-campus house? The answer is probably simple: I’m a bibliophile who wants to read whatever book is on my mind at that moment. In that moment, it was A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti.

I’m currently struggling as I try to decipher my feelings about this new digital experience. I admit that I still didn’t love reading the e-book off of my phone. This has nothing to do with the book, which I loved. I just missed the feel of a bound stack of paper in my hand; however, I was able to read the e-book pretty quickly since I was just scrolling. I breezed through it. It was very convenient to go online, hit a few clicks and have the book in my hand in less than five minutes. Reading an e-book again wasn’t that bad.

There are probably several reasons why people would be against e-books, such as how they’re killing print, but aside from straining my eyes, I couldn’t find any faults. One claim against e-books is about how they could possibly help authors make money; however, just like print books, the amount of money made depends on how the e-book is published, contracts, number of copies sold and the price of the book. Sometimes, libraries can also come under fire because they lend books for free (which really helps people who can’t afford to buy a ton of books), but there are ways that libraries still benefit writers, such as leading to readers buying other books from authors they love. In fact, libraries help more people than just authors. So, the money argument shouldn’t be the main focus.

Honestly, I did all this research about the money argument due to my struggle with accepting that I liked reading an e-book. I don’t have a problem with libraries; I wish I hadn’t forgotten that little girl who got super excited when she could go to the library. I loved borrowing from my library again, especially since I don’t have millions of dollars to spend on books. I still have at least $200 back home in print books to read (and I’ll get through them eventually), but at least I didn’t buy anymore.

So, while I’ve rediscovered my love for libraries, I can’t call myself a permanent convert to team e-book. When I get an itch to read a recent bestseller or an old classic, for now I’ll go to the online library and borrow an e-book. Unless I win the lottery. Then, I’m buying any print book I want.

Rebecca is a senior and the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Geneseo. She is a double major in English (Creative Writing) and Communication. Rebecca is also the Copy Editor for the student newspaper The Lamron, Co-Managing Editor of Gandy Dancer, a Career Peer Mentor in the Department of Career Development, and a Reader for The Masters Review. She hopes to work in the publishing industry and pitch articles to different magazines. When Rebecca is not reading, writing and editing, she can be found dancing with OGX on campus. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @Becca_Willie04!
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