Join the great ebook vs paperback debate

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Four million of us unwrapped an Amazon Kindle on Christmas morning this year.

For the second year in a row, the Kindle was the biggest selling product of the year on the online retailer’s website and about one million of them were sold every week in December.

The Kindle has enjoyed a huge rise in popularity this year. In April Amazon announced that customers were choosing Kindle books over hardcover books at a rate of more than two to one, even as hard cover sales continued to grow. Since then 242 Kindle books have been sold for every 100 hardcover books.

Those who have a Kindle say they would never go back to traditional books.

Terri Meechan, of Gretton, said: “My partner, a genuine technophobe, got a Kindle for Christmas and he absolutely loves it. He says it’s much better than holding a book and as he has rheumatoid arthritis it’s much easier for him to hold and he doesn’t have to physically struggle to turn pages.

“It is the best thing we could have got him.”

June Willis, of Kettering, agrees. She said: “I’ve had a Kindle for ages and I love it. I used to buy at least one book a week and they took up so much space. Now I just download as and when I need to.

“You’re not limited to choice and any type of book is available. I don’t think paper books will ever be extinct, it’s just that Kindles are so convenient and some of them even read your books to you.”

But can an ebook ever replacing the feeling of turning the pages of a real book?

Liz Line, of Rushden, doesn’t think so. She said: “I prefer holding a real book. There is nothing better than curling up on the sofa or in bed all nice and snug and reading your favourite book.

“I often read for four to five hours at a time and I think the screen would hurt my eyes. If I don’t want to buy an expensive book I go to the library.

“It’s cheap and easy and keeps our libraries going which I think is important.

“I think it would be a real shame if traditional books were replaced with ebooks.”

And Claire Humphrey, of Kettering, said: “I prefer to have a real book in my hands. At least if you get the book wet it can be dried. These Kindle things are OK but a lazy person’s way of reading.

“You can’t take a Kindle in the tub with you for fear of dropping the thing in the water.

“It could have its good uses for students who don’t want to carry round a load of books that they need, but for people like me I like real paper pages.”

Ebooks have become so popular they can now be ‘borrowed’ through Northamptonshire Libraries.

The county library service has a range of over 110 books online which are available through the Public Library Online from publisher Bloomsbury.

The ebooks cover subjects including autobiographies, history and crime as well as teen fiction and poetry and there are plans to increase the number of titles available.

Author Kate Summerscale is among those to welcome the development of ebooks.

She said: “I’m delighted that The Suspicions of Mr Whicher will be part of The Bloomsbury Library Online – it sounds a great scheme, especially for book groups.”

The library ebooks are not for download and can only be viewed on screen via your PC, tablet or other device, which means several people can read an ebook at the same time.

To borrow an ebook you simply need to visit the website and enter your membership number on the front of your library card.

What do you think of ebooks? Are you a convert to the Kindle or do you prefer a traditional hardback or paperback? Get in touch with your comments by emailing or writing to Viewpoint, the Evening Telegraph, Newspapaper House, Ise Park, Rothwell Road, Kettering, NN16 8GA.