Thursday, February 23, 2012

Curl Up With A Good... E-Reader?

“I personally don’t like e-readers. I like to actually hold the physical book in my hand. Perhaps it's just the nerd in me, but when I read a book, I commit fully to it (even if I don't really like it). For some reason kindles etc. seem much more impersonal. My mom has one that I have used and I have the app on my phone. I've read whole books on both and I still prefer the hard copy." - Nicole D.

When I first purchased my e-reader I felt much the same. It felt odd to hold this tiny device and only press a button in order to turn a page. It was odd not to have my cat trying to lay on it and it was weird that after a month of using my kindle near constantly I needed to charge it.

I never had to do that with a book.

For quite a while I was on the fence with my e-reader. I was worried I would end up regretting the purchase and discover that books were obviously better. See, I went for months considering if buying an e-reader was worth it. During those months I kept an eye on how much I spent on books and how much I would have saved if I had an e-reader. The difference in cost was extremely noticeable. But to regret the e-reader purchase would have been a tough thing because of the money I had invested in the device. But then I started to get used to it and quickly fell in love.

One of the pluses?

Free. Classics.

I was trying to get a lot of classic literature to read but for a Mass Market it cost me anywhere from $4-6 per book. With my e-reader I had those books for free. Yes, yes, I could have gone to a library and gotten the books for free there as well. But I wouldn’t be able to keep the books or take my sweet time reading them. For me, personally, I need to take my time with these books and not have a schedule where I have to renew them. Their easy access made it even easier for me to get my hands on them. According to the World-Herald News Service, E-readers are helping teens become more interested in books. “...Another advantage of e-books is that students can continue to use smartphones, Kindles and other e-readers to check out electronic books over the summer. As a result, the high school library can be used by students 12 months a year, not just during the nine months that classes are in session.”

While there is a lot of opportunity to explore different books the e-reader may come short in other areas.

"What I don't like is the prospect of re-buying some of my childhood favorites that aren't offered for free. There's also the fact that, at least for the kindle, the selection can be limited; there are several books I'd love to read on it, but they aren't available for kindle. At least one series in the latter category is from a publishing company which has since closed down, so the likelihood of it being published for kindle is zilch." - Cassandra C 
"What I do miss from real books (aside from the feel/weight/sound of a 'real' book) is the layout/font type/cover art, and other production qualities that you simply don't get with a digital version. I can't imagine something like House of Leaves in a digital format...many books gain personality through the paper type, the sort of font used, and what is in the header/footer of each page (decorative symbols, lines, etc). I think that this is probably something that will grow with time in digital formats..." - Ash, author of the horror blog The Way to a Woman's Heart Is Through Her Ribcage

I personally still would rather buy a paper copy of books that have colored photos/graphics and maps in them as I find it easier to flip to a map in a book than on my e-reader. But... that’s my own preference. Despite the loss of some things with an e-reader, some devices provide more options and therefore give the reader a better experience.

"I never thought I'd want an e-reader...I'm kind of old school, I still buy CDs and vinyl, and I always just liked the tactile quality of a book. But after I got a kindle last Christmas I couldn't put it down. For months I took it everywhere with me, I've purchased more ebooks in the last year than I've bought actual books in the last several years. I found that I finished books faster, reading at least twice as many books as I ordinarily would. I still read regular books, I still like holding a book and the sound of the pages turning, but with the kindle it's just more don't have to worry about breaking the binding or deal with the errant page that just won't stay put... I also tend to read a lot of large books, and it's a lot nicer to read a 600 page novel on my kindle, which weighs the same no matter how many books it's holding, and a lot less strain on my wrists." - Heather L.

As someone who writes and types regularly I can agree that not having to hold up a heavy book definitely is less stressful on my wrists and I suspect it is what caused me to read Little Women so quickly - the fact that I didn’t have to reserve my reading time to being at home certainly pushed my reading speed.

Dodai Stewart wrote, "The mere presence of books implies knowing, worldliness, intellect, romance, possibility. Beauty and the we all know, the pivotal movement -- when you know their love is real -- is when the Beast gives Belle a glorious library full of books." With so many books being available on e-readers bookshelves certainly aren’t as needed and by default (for those who care and take notice) people won’t be able to marvel at all the books you have read and own.

(Disney's Beauty and the Beast)

This is a good thing for those who don’t have much space to work with. I myself had run out of room for books and couldn’t fit another bookcase into my room, I also couldn’t afford one. With the idea that I was (still am) hoping to move I had to face the possibility of leaving my books behind. Thank goodness I have my kindle because I can bring my books with me. However, it is easy to believe that books (and book shelves) are going the way of records and rotary phones. Bookcases have a certain artistic appeal, they can even have themes. I don’t believe such an idea will cease to exist just beacause someone’s shelves may be in a device. If a person takes such care into putting books on display and making themes I don’t believe they will be easily convinced to stop simply because of the existence of e-readers.

If I really love a book I may have the printed and digital formats of that book. The printed edition stays on the bookshelves I have (some even have a theme!) and I don’t intend on getting rid of them even if I have an e-reader.

With not buying as many printed books anymore I certainly have more space and less to get rid of (selling or giving away) when I decide to depart with some books. Which brings to mind: which is greener? E-books or printed books?

Interested in more e-book ranting/loving?

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