When e-books started blowing up, they were received like the devil: everyone in the bookish community was angry about their existence for one reason or another. When asked why they prefer physical books, most readers will say something about ‘the smell’ and ‘the feel of the pages’, which are perfectly good reasons to love good old paperbacks, but at times they get surprisingly passionate about defending their beloved physical copies.
E-books are then not considered ‘real’ books, and people who take their e-readers to the beach are somehow less than those who curl up with hot chocolate and a copy from Waterstones. The truth, however, is that the bashing of e-books is nothing short of elitism.
E-books are popular for two main reasons: their accessibility, and their ease of transportation. This makes them the preferred choice for readers with a limited budget, limited access to bookshops and libraries, and those who travel a lot. They’re also the right choice for people who read five or six books at the same time, as e-readers can carry an entire library.
Now, a few years into the e-book debate, everyone seems to have calmed down, and most people are okay with e-books being out there. The majority of readers will be caught in the middle, having one book on their e-reader and one on their shelf. But the most interesting development is the display of e-books as artistic and just as beautiful as physical books.
Bookstagrammers are the perfect example of this—while a lot of bookish Instagram accounts mainly feature physical copies of books, nicely arranged photos of e-books have recently gained popularity, and are slowly taking over the platform.
A likely reason for this is the relatable aspect of those pictures: a lot of readers can’t afford shiny new releases in hardback, but have perhaps acquired a digital copy, and can now delight at how nicely someone has made that format look, or at the very least feel less left out from the display of expensive copies. Moreover, the ease of bringing an e-reader on holiday opens up the possibility of bookish shots taken all over the world—and everyone loves a good travel pic on Instagram.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you hold on to your hardbacks or have been converted to the e-reader cult—all books have their beauty, and each reader will find a new way of showcasing it.