Love your e-reader? Good: You’re not a book snob

book snobI came across a pretty funny article recently on The Telegraph: “Why book snobs are worse than Kindle fans.” It’s a rather sarcastic and abrasive piece, so prepare yourself now.

The article (which is intentionally hyperbolic) argues that people who hate e-readers and clutch their paperbacks or leather-bound hardcovers dearly to their chests are really materialistic idiots who are against reading itself, not the e-revolution. They think every Kindle or Nook owner bought one to read crappy grocery store aisle romances or widely panned novels like 50 Shades of Grey that they’re too embarrassed and ashamed to read in public, and these same critics bandy about shallow reasons for why print books are better:

No, you can’t proudly display your Kindle library in your dining room, or dash off some awful contrived inscription in the front because you once saw someone do that in a film, but that’s not really what books are for, is it? They’re for reading, and that experience is even better on an electronic machine than in print.

This argument should be the end of it, but it doesn’t satisfy the snobs, because for them books have nothing to do with reading. They are actually material for interior design – bits of incredibly naff “retro chic” pretence, rather than great works of art. Alongside your Smythson writing desk and your collection of vinyls comes a stack of neglected classics, destined to be judged only by their covers. These people should be off buying tweed or lobbying for signatures to join a Pall Mall members club, not lecturing on how to enjoy literature.

It’s a harsh stance, but if you can swallow the scathing remarks, the writer actually makes a good point: All the reasons why we cling to print books over e-books are trivial and petty. What does it matter which is better as long as you’re reading? Do we have to divide ourselves into groups — readers and e-book readers — or can we all just agree that more reading is good?

It’s like complaining that you’re not a “real reader” unless you only devour classics — not stupid popular books like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter. Frankly, I think that’s a pretty snobbish attitude, too. It’s okay not to like the classics. They can be pretty boring at times.

What do you think of the writer’s attack on print-book snobs? Agree or disagree?

Print book collections are a statement about you and your life

Coffee table books

Digital might be the future, but a love of print books seems to go deeper than nostalgia. A personal library can say more about you than a hundred e-files can.

“When you have people over, you don’t show off your iPad library,” Josh Baker, the art director of Taschen Books, told The Independent. “There’s something about physical books that allows owners to make a statement about themselves and life.”

The quote comes from an article about the prevalence of coffee table books (including cookbooks) despite the digital revolution that’s crushing many print releases.

“Illustrated books and art books have withstood the digital decline that the rest of the industry is facing,” said Tom Tivnan, the features editor of The Bookseller. “The ‘beautiful’ books are the print books that will survive in the digital age. The latest Bookscan figures suggest, for example, that sales of individual monograph art books were up 70 per cent last year.”

Do you think coffee table books are “physical publishing’s last, best hope,” as it says in the article?

I do think home collections are a great way to show others the kind of person you are — and what you believe in. Someone who owns a lot of cooking and home-decorating books, for example, would likely be domestic at heart and value family and closeness.