ereaders vs. paper books

I’m a fan of ebooks.  Until this last week I’d never even seen a dedicated ereading device.  Whenever I wanted a new release (in contrast to just looking for any old thing to read or a specific older title, both of which I look for at my local used book store), I would buy an ebook version to read on my iTouch.  The tiny screen made reading a little awkward, you can count on at last double the page count, which is a lot of page turns.  That in turn equals a lot of wrist flicks which can become tiring if you read long enough.

I have been lucky enough to be able to compare the Nook with the Kindle.  But I’d take either device over printed books any day.  Here are the reasons why:

  • Storage-  I have boxes of books in my garage and piles next to my bed and on my desk.  Even so, my total collection probably only amounts to 2 or 3 hundred books.  If I wanted something to read in the car during a long trip, I’d have to pack individual books at the cost of other things I could have fit into that space.  With ereaders that isn’t a concern.  I could fit my entire library and probably another 4 or 5 like it on one device that’s smaller than a trade paperback. 
  • Annotation-  I’m not really one who marks up my books.  I actually try to keep them as pristine as I can.  With ebooks there’s not really any pressure to do that.  I can write as many notes to myself as I’d like without worrying about ruining the book.  A built in dictionary and the ability to bookmark pages (without the seemingly irresistible lure of tags of paper sticking out of the pages to tempt my 3 y/o) are also big advantages.
  • Transportation-  This could be lumped under storage, I’m sure, but I personally love having my pick of hundreds of books without having to carry them with me all the time.  Sometimes the pressure of choosing THE best book to read makes me not choose a book at all and just do something else entirely.  Now I can load all the books I own onto a device and carry them all with me to be chosen as the whim hits me.  If I’m not feeling something, I can easily pull up a different book instead.  Having an entire collection of books in my hands has contributed to me reading more in the last week than I have in probably the last 3 months put together. 
  • The lure of tech-  YMMV on this one, but I really enjoy electronics.  There’s just something really cool about reading a book on an electronic screen. 
  • Lower prices-  This isn’t true across the board as some publishers charge as much for ebooks as their hardback books, but I’ve noticed that, in general, you can find ebooks for less than paper books.  And there are hundreds of indie authors producing thousands of indie books that are $5 or less.  Plus, there are free books to find out there.  I’m still a relative noob at that part so I won’t attempt to link any sites, but on Amazon alone there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of free books from old classics to new releases available. 
  • Convenience-  Being able to buy a book in my underwear as soon as the urge to read it hits me is awesome.  You never have to call ahead to make sure it’s available or special order a copy.  Instant gratification is a powerful incentive.
  • It’s green-  There’s a certain amount of comfort in knowing that my entertainment isn’t costing any paper to produce. 
  • Lending-  I’ve heard people argue that ebooks are inferior because you can’t give them away or resell them to recoup any of your costs.  That’s true enough, but I have a hard time giving up my books since I reread them, so it doesn’t color my choice at all.  In fact, I love the idea of virtual lending because there are groups out there dedicated to trading lends back and forth.  That means that I ‘m not just limited to a small circle of irl friends who might not read anything I enjoy.  By having the whole country available to trade with, I can read books I’ll enjoy and be sure that the books I’m lending are going to people who really want to read them too.
  • Access to out of print books-  As more authors get their backlists up, more and more out of print books are becoming available to read.  I hope that as the years progress nearly all of them will be available this way.  I hate having to choose between paying outrageous amounts of money to own a book or doing without altogether just because I can’t find a copy at a thrift store or second hand bookshop. 
  • Extras-  A book is just a book.  It’s limited by the cost to print it.  An ebook can be any length and can include pictures or interactive elements.  ereaders can run games, play music, and read your book out loud to you.  That’s besides being able to read newspapers, magazines, and blogs in addition to books.

There are other reasons, I’m sure, but these are my top reasons that I prefer ebooks to the real thing.  In the end it’s a personal choice and different feelings about the factors involved will dictate whether a person adores, is lukewarm, or hates this new trend in reading.  All I can say is that for me, it makes perfect sense and I embrace it with open arms.  A good story is the same regardless of the format you read it from.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to cull my paperback collection and trade a lot of them in for store credits at the used bookstore.   

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1 Comment

Filed under technology

One response to “ereaders vs. paper books

  1. I have to say, your point on storage is valid, but the cost of all of the plastics and computer chips (including, as I’ve heard, a wi-fi chip? That’s neat) would defeat the purpose of being green. Not to mention the waste in treating things so they don’t wear down as quickly.

    All in all, they aren’t very green.

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