Kindle Revolution or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the E-Book

by Shannon

(This post was originally found on my personal blog, isleofbooks.com)

10 points if you get the title reference ;)

My thoughts on e-books have been well-documented on this blog. Long story short: I don’t think e-books will replace physical books, in the same way film didn’t destroy photography. An e-book contains a potential that is so much beyond a physical book, that any notion of competition between them is soon to become mythology. So while e-books are here to stay, their future lies more by way of revolutionizing reading, rather than eliminating books as an entity.

Which isn’t to say I wasn’t resistant to them at first. I still prefer holding books in my hand, feeling the heft of them, hearing the spine crack when you open a new one. But I have gradually come to recognize the utility of e-books.

Initially, I downloaded the Kindle app on my phone. I found myself at urgent care one fall afternoon, without a book or any homework to distract myself. So, I installed Kindle and bought a copy of The Hunger Games. My phone battery gave up the ghost within half an hour, but still, I had those thirty minutes of distraction.

Later, while doing research for a paper, I discovered that a resource I needed wasn’t in print anymore, but oddly enough, offered as an e-book. Clicking around on Amazon, I saw there was a Kindle app for Mac. So I got that, too.

When I got an iPad a few months after that, I quickly installed the Kindle app on that, too. Which is around the time that I discovered e-books are frequently offered for free or discounted to $0.99 by their authors. I’ve acquired quite a few random titles that way.

Yesterday, my mom who is also a big reader, got a Kindle Fire. She, too, held out on the e-book revolution. She loves that Kindle.

So, what exactly is so great about e-books and e-readers?

* Cost-efficient. I’ve already discussed how an enterprising reader can obtain books for cheap. This is the same principle as going to a used bookstore, except you have so many more choices online. Most e-books are somewhat less than printed companion. How much less depends on the price set by the publisher and the popularity of the book. Classics, which have passed into the public domain, are often available for free or nearly so. A best-selling hardcover novel might still fetch $15 for the digital version. (I personally see little point in paying that much for something that exists on a screen. I might as well just scrounge up some coupons and buy the actual book) So for readers on budget (check) and people who have a problem with buying too many books (check), e-books offer a unique way to save money.

* Books are HEAVY. Anyway who’s ever had to move with a sizable collection of novels gets this. Books are a pain to move, right up there with actual furniture and glassware. I enjoy having a collection of physical books. I really do. I have so many that the shelves sag. But I’m on a mission to thin out my collection before I have to move again. E-books are obviously a great alternative for people with little space. You can put however many books on an e-reader that weighs 14 ounces (rounded weight of the Kindle Fire). Sometimes I get a book I know is just for fun and I’m not really going to want to keep. So why use up the space and lug around the extra weight, when I can just download and read it?

* Authors are offering e-book exclusives. Little and big authors alike are capitalizing on the e-book revolution by offering exclusive novellas and short stories to those with access to an e-reader. Just today, my mom grabbed three of these special books from author Fern Michaels. In the past couple months, I’ve seen similar offerings from Sara Shepherd and Douglas Peston & Lincoln Child.

* Instant sharing between devices. Left your books on the nightstand this morning? With e-books you can grab your book and pick up where you left off with any range of devices (computers, phones, tablets, anything with an option for apps basically). I liked to bring a book to read between classes because I always had weird breaks in between and not a lot to do. Using an e-book app, means I can read my book on the laptop I already brought for class, without the extra weight and hassle of trying to fit it in my bulging book bag with everything else. (I frequently either had classes where I wasn’t allowed to take notes on a computer or the class required drawing lots of diagrams, so I always had notebooks, a computer, and whatever text books I needed)

* Convenience. Recently, I realized I didn’t have the next book in the series. I didn’t have time to go to the bookstore or order it before my trip. So I checked Amazon. Yup, they had it.

So while anyone who’s been to my house knows I have an enduring love for physical books, I’ve found room in my heart for the e-book, too.

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4 Comments to “Kindle Revolution or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the E-Book”

  1. I have both the Fire (last year’s model), and the Kindle keyboard (B&W). Of the two, I prefer reading on the Kindle, but at night, with the lights off, it’s nice to have the Fire to read on.

    I still like books, and have many I will re-read, but I too have found a place for the Kindle.

    One thing that bothers me, is when e-Books cost more or as much as a paper-back. I get all the reasons, and I want to support the authors, but I can’t help thinking I’m getting ripped off . . . so I rent from the library.

  2. I’ve had a Kindle Touch for about 6 months now and I love it. It has helped me read even more books because it has made it much easier for me to read on the train or even waiting in line at the supermarket, I think anything that makes it easier for people to read has to be a good thing, so I am fully behind the e-book revolution.

    Also, I’ve found that it has encouraged me to take a punt on unknown authors (some that have been bad, others that have been very enjoyable) so as an aspiring author I also think e-books are a good thing. I personally would still want to be with a traditional publisher though and have my name on both hardback and paperback copies.

  3. I think there is room in the publishing industry to both formats. Plus, having e-books makes it so much easier for aspiring authors to get their work published. Yes, we have to be mindful of editing and putting out high-quality work so self-published books don’t get a bad reputation in the e-book market, but it’s an avenue that has opened up an opportunity that was otherwise unavailable and cost-prohibitive until now.

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