I’m not into ebooks, which is strange because in addition to being a huge bookworm, I also consider myself tech-savvy. Social media presence? Boom: 115 tweets away from 26,000. Digital music? I started using Napster in fifth grade, before my voice even broke. Teaching old people about technology? I once attempted to show my grandmother how to use a computer. (She tried her best.) JavaScript, Visual Basic, and other programming languages? I said I’m tech-savvy, not Mark freaking Zuckerberg.

But ebooks? Eh. No. Not my thing. I do admit, though, that most of my reasons span the usual spectrum of bookworm clichés, like wanting a home library one day, or liking the smell of paper. Or feeling like you are personally responsible for keeping the print industry afloat.

“No, I don’t actually read Chinese.”

But there are many other advantages to print books. Too poor to buy real furniture, the way Hemingway did? You can use a stack of print books as a makeshift nightstand! Want to feel superior to your fellow commuters on the MRT? Just take out that battered, obscure text of early 1900‘s French existentialism! You don’t even have to read it. (Or, for that matter, understand French.) Print books would also ensure the survival of some cornerstone phrases of the English language, like “curling up with a good book”. You can’t curl up with an ebook. People would just think you’re on Twitter.


I do see, and acknowledge, however begrudgingly, the value of ebooks. First of all, yes, you get to save trees. Not only do I not turn off the tap while brushing my teeth (sorry), I also can’t afford a Prius, so I guess going digital is the least I could do for Our Planet.

And as much as having print books lying around makes my apartment look like the Paris lair of a dead alcoholic writer (in a good way), it actually is a lot of trouble come moving day. I mean, those things aren’t exactly light. And since I probably won’t be able to afford movers, guess who’s going to haul that stuff down? (Me.)

Finally, while I’m not at this stage yet, maybe I’ll eventually see the value of having all my books in one place. The same way I stopped bringing all my CDs around and synced all 30 gigabytes of MP3s into my iPod. It does feel good to take out your device and find the breadth of your collection at your fingertips.

And when I think of it, many of my reading habits did change with the arrival of the Internet and smartphones. Facebook and Twitter has become not only a place for me to get realtime news, but also other online content, including longform articles. With the amount of magazines posting their content online for free, I’ve stopped buying their print editions.

For what it’s worth, while I don’t have a Kindle now, I do have an iBooks app on my iPhone. Which contains actual ebooks. That I actually read. Granted, they’re limited to nonfiction titles as of now. I don’t yet have the heart to do that to fiction, to curl up in a corner with a device.

But, you know. Babysteps.


In college, Putra studied accounting and finance, which has proven useless in his current job writing lists for the Internet. To his grandmother’s chagrin, Putra reads a lot of books lying down.