Audiobook: I’ll get the first round. What’ll it be, guys?
Paperback: Large glass of white wine, please.
E-book: Vodka and Coke.
Audiobook: I’m having a J2O, I’m driving later. *goes off to buy the drinks*
Paperback: You know I’m better than you, right?
E-book: No way. You’re made of dead trees and poisonous ink. You’re bad for the environment.
Paperback: Excuse me? I think you’re forgetting about the energy and raw materials it takes to make these e-reading gadgets and keep them charged up. And I suspect a lot of editors print out the proofs on to, as you say, ‘dead trees’ before you’re published.
E-book: Look, that’s not quantifiable. It’s all swings and roundabouts.
Paperback: Right. Well. I’m prettier than you, I smell good, I feel nice under the readers’ fingertips. Bookstagram adores me. If my friend Hardback was here, he’d tell you the same.
E-book: You’re so vain. Beauty is on the inside. Anyway you take up so much space! You smell musty sometimes, you get damaged easily. And you’re full of germs! Who’s done better during the pandemic, when libraries and bookshops and charity shops have been closed? Me, that’s who. Hygienic, cheap, portable me.
Paperback: Lots of people simply don’t like you. Get over it.
Audiobook: Here we go! *puts tray of drinks on the table* What did I miss?
E-book: We’re arguing about who’s the best format.
Audiobook: That’s easy. The answer is me!
Paperback and E-book: No! You do not count as reading.
Audiobook: I most certainly do. Moreover, people can read me while doing something else, such as baking a cake, practising yoga, gardening and various other pursuits. If they tried that while reading either of you, things would get rather sticky. And let’s not forget that I’m loved by people who are visually impaired, unable to turn pages or for other reasons can’t use you.
E-book: You’ve got a point, I suppose.
Paperback: Yes. But I’m still the best. *sips wine smugly*
E-book: No. I’m the best. *smashes fist on the table*
Audiobook: Let’s just calm down, shall we? *puts an arm around each* I think we can agree on something. We are all books, we are all valid forms of reading and we are all awesome! OK?
Paperback and E-book: OK.
Paperback: *whispering to self* I’m the best. So there.
E-book: I heard that! *slams drink down, picks up bar stool*
Audiobook: Uh-oh. Time to get out of here…
*slow motion scene of bar fight while Audiobook sneaks away*