Print or e-books: Readers say nothing beats the feeling of flipping pages

Most of the visitors at the Sharjah International Book Fair say reading experience is incomplete until 'you hold a book in your hand'

File photo
File photo

Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Sun 7 Nov 2021, 8:10 PM

With their shopping carts packed with the latest titles, bibliophiles of all ages and nationalities can’t get enough of retail therapy at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF). When asked whether they were ready to swap their books with the e-versions — many responded with a hard ‘no’.

Most said they still preferred going to bed with a print version rather than its digital cousin. Some others, however, are happy converts and have come to the book fair in search of their next lot of e-books.

Sharjah resident Abdulla Alyafei, for instance, said he shifted to reading digital books for the sheer convenience the format offers, especially while travelling. The avid reader, who carries his tablet on his work commute to Dubai every day, however confessed that if asked to choose between the two formats, he’d never substitute a real book with its digital version.

“Real books create an entirely different reading experience. Moreover, I like to collect books so that I can read them later,” Alyafei said.

For 13-year-old Shreya, who is a big fan of J.K Rowling, “the real book is better as it’s not just the story and its characters; the book itself is iconic, memorable and a must-have, especially when it comes to the Harry Potter series”.

It is the hassle of charging batteries and maintaining a technology gadget that is a put-off for 14-year-old Imran Mn, who exclaims: “You never have to worry about a physical book running out of charge!” Imran’s favourites are the Agatha Christie paperbacks.

Emirati Marwa Al Hammadi said she is unable to grasp the sheer literary extravagance on offer at SIBF 2021. “This book fair has everything I am looking for. I learn so much just by reading the blurbs on the books,” she said.

Marwa’s vote is for the physical book, too. “A reading experience is incomplete until you hold a book in your hand.”

Saud Al Kaabi, a visitor at the SIBF, said that despite the intensive use of smartphones for shopping, paying bills, browsing social media, and making bank transactions, “there’s still nothing like holding a printed book for reading”.

“It is a great feeling which will never be a tool of the past like the typewriter. Reading books will last forever,” Al Kaabi said,

Salam Al Kutbi, another visitor, said books give their readers a unique ‘feel’. “I can hold it, turn the pages, and feel the paper. I’m one of the people who love to read. I want to spend a lifetime acquiring books. It’s not easy to abandon the shelves of books for electronic devices.”

While this never-ending debate continues, make sure to go grab your and your family’s stock of reading materials until the SIBF comes back with even more variety next year. More than 15 million titles are currently on display at the fair. As the theme of this edition asserts, ‘There’s always a right book’, the right one for you awaits.

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