Saturday, April 24, 2010

To E-read or Not to E-read...

I have seen the topic of ebooks and ereaders come up on many blogs, especially with the pricing wars on Amazon, so I thought I would throw my own two cents into the mix for the sake of a conversation piece. When I first heard of ereaders with the Kindle Wireless Reading Device, I admit I truly thought it was just a fad that would fall by the wayside for lack of interest. When I realized that was not the case, I decided I would be a die-hard paperbook fan to the bitter end, nevermind how big the fad got. Then a few weeks ago I saw a commercial on television for the Apple IPad, and the computer geek in me became green with envy. So in the interest of at least appearing fair-minded, I will compare and contrast my beloved paperbooks with the much-detested ebooks.

1. Even with all of the pricing wars occuring right now with Amazon and others, paperbooks are still cheaper, provided a person avoids buying hardbacks.
2. Paperbooks require no extraneous source of power to operate.
3. Paperbooks are by far more easily obtainable, as not every book published comes in an ebook format.
4. Paperbooks are easily portable, both by weight and by size.
5. Paperbooks provide a better format for textbooks and other large-format books.
6. Paperbooks make better photo and picture books than ebooks.
7. Paperbooks do not cause any significant eye-strain that an ebook could cause, either from blurry letters, screen glares, etc.
8. Paperbooks can be read anywhere that provides sufficient lighting.

1. Paperbooks must have a light source to be read.
2. Paperbooks can be bulky and heavy, depending on the book.
3. Traveling with more than 2 to 3 paperbooks at a time can be difficult.
4. Any notes written onto the pages of paperbooks are permanent to some degree.

1. Ebooks are not dependent on lighting conditions to be read, as the ereader comes with its own light source.
2. Ebooks are more environmentally-friendly, as they do not consume paper, ink, etc.
3. Multiple ebooks are easily portable in a single ereader.
4. Readability is much improved with the computer technology of zoom functions, letter resizing, etc.
5. Ebooks can be easily converted to audio books with a simple computer program.
6. Ebooks are more conducive to note-taking, with functions such as referencing, easy deletion, etc.

1. Ebooks must be on an ereader to be read.
2. Ebooks are not readily available for just any title.
3. Conflicting formats of ebooks to ereaders is a common problem.
4. The prices of ereaders are not cheap.
5. Power consumption and battery life are concerns when using an ereader.
6. Eye strain, RSI, and generally sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time are all unhealthy aspects of using an ereader.
7. Pricing discrepancies with ebooks are a problem in the publishing industry.
8. Ereaders suffer from the same typical problems of any computer, such as software bugs, freezing, data loss, etc. (Imagine losing your entire library from a malfunction!)
9. Ereaders are more likely to be stolen than paperbooks.
10. The disposal of ereaders that can no longer be used pose a problem for the environment.

Another thing that I think should be said for this ongoing debate in the bookish community is the fact that much of the world simply cannot afford to spend money on the gathering of information. Ereaders and ebooks will remain forever a luxury reserved for the modern world until they can be made available free of charge for anyone, much in the same way that libraries are meant to serve the community. If for no other reason than this, I will always remain an avid supporter of the production, distribution, and availability of paperbooks.

I have given my opinion on the debate of paperbooks versus ebooks, what is yours?


Amat Libris said...

There is one respect in which e-books are invaluable, and that's obscure, out-of-print titles from websites like Project Gutenberg. I prefer paper, but I love the idea of making out-of-copyright books freely available online.

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