Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Ebooks vs. Books (part 2)


It's time for part two of the Great Debate:

books vs. ebooks

Monday's post was on why I love books. Today I'm going to talk about what I love about ebooks, and whether or not I believe that real books will ever go away.

The first ebook I ever finished reading was The Hunger Games (you can read my review here).  I'd downloaded a few of the classics before, but I'd read them already, so I only got a few chapters into them

The Hunger Games isn't just one of those books you put down though, regardless of whether it's a book or an ebook.

So, what can you do with an ebook?

  • read it in the dark
  • turn pages with one hand
  • hold it in one hand
  • change the font, the size, and the background 
  • begin reading a book seconds after first hearing about it
  • self-publish cheaply 
  • search the book for your favorite character

The screen shot on the right is from my current read, The Mysteries of Udolpho.

Ebooks are easy to transport. Instead of packing a trunk or purse full of books, you can carry literally an entire library around in your pocket. I mean, that's really, really amazing.

That's like something you would only find in fantasy. Like Hermione's magic bag in Deathly Hallows.

E-readers make owning, collecting, and transporting books faster and easier than it's ever been before.

But do I believe that ebooks will eventually replace real books?

To answer that question, I want to draw some parallels from history.

When was the last time a major advancement was made in the way books were published and distributed?

That would be the invention of the printing press in 1440.

Before we had printed books, we had things called manuscripts, which were handwritten, largely by monks.

Only the very rich could own books because of the time it took to produce them.

And then Johannes Gutenberg invented a faster, easier way to print.

Now everyone could own and read books.

The Protestant Reformation was helped in a large part by the wide-spread distribution of the works of Luther and other Reformers, as well as copies of the Bible.

Sure, the books weren't as pretty as manuscripts, which took years and years to complete because of the painstaking illustrations and the beautiful handwriting of the monks. But now they could be read faster and for less.

Fast forward to today. Are ebooks going to oust real books the way real books ousted manuscripts?

I believe the answer is no. 

The reason that real books took over from manuscripts was because everyone could read them.

And, today, not everyone can afford an e-reader.

One of the main things that an e-reader requires is internet access, at least to initially buy books. Not everyone has internet access.

An e-reader requires access to electricity. Not everyone has that.

You see, anyone can pick up a book and read it. But, like I said in the last post, not everyone can realistically maintain ownership of an e-reader.

So until that day when everyone owns an e-reader...

I believe real books are here to stay.

What's your favorite thing about ebooks? Do you believe books and ebooks can coexist?

Let me know by commenting!

34 comments:

  1. I love books but do not have an electronic reader yet. I like having the feel of the book in my hand, putting the marker in, never having a real bookmark, but. . .your comments will encourage me to try. I'll buy a Kindle for my birthday. Your words are so well thought out. Clear writing is wonderful!

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    1. You should. The Kindle is pretty handy. :)

      Thank you for the lovely comment!

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  2. I think both can co-exist. I will always own the real deal, I love going to the bookstore. But I can see the convenience and reason for having an e-reader. I might even get one for myself someday. :)

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    1. E-readers are convenient, even if they'll never come close to being like a real book. :)

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  3. I do believe that they can co-exist quite nicely. I have a Kindle, and reading that way is a different experience than reading a print book.

    Nice to meet you and I hope you're enjoying the Challenge!

    KarenG
    A to Z Challenge Host

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    1. Nice to meet you too! I am enjoying the challenge, very much.

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  4. I've been a staunch paper snob for quite a while, despite the fact that I'm an EE with an extensive computer background. I'm no Luddite when it comes to technology, but I've always loved the feel of a real book. I've been an avid reader for almost fifty years, ever since my first "See Spot run" books. That's a lot of history and inertia to overcome.

    But... I'm weakening.

    The Kindle Fire sirens are singing strongly, and there's no-one around to lash me to the mast. I suspect I'll be fully assimilated into the E-reader collective within six months.

    Wonderful A-to-Z post, and great blog! And thank you for the visit and comment on mine as well. New follower here!

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    1. The Kindle Fire is pretty neat. I guess I'm not helping your resolve. But don't worry; you'll like it in the E-reader collective. ;)

      Thanks for following!

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  5. Hi, Lauren! You can also draw comparisons to music: CDs (and even cassette tapes and records) are still here even though digital music is a more popular way to listen. I don't have an eReader because I don't want one. I'm an ink-and-paper books fan all the way!! I like browsing bookstores and buying them and seeing real books in my home makes me happy. But I have friends and family who own Kindles and iPads and they love them. So as long as people are still getting excited about reading and books and authors, then it's a great thing. But I don't think eBooks will replace real books. At least not in my lifetime anyway!

    Nice to meet you and happy A to Z!!

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    1. Nice to meet you too, Laura! I hadn't thought of the comparison to CD's. That's very true.

      I agree, as long as it keeps people reading! I mean, being a writer, I guess I have a vested interest in the continuation of reading as a habit, but as a reader it's a good thing too! ;)

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  6. I love your What You Can Do On An Ebook list! I hadn't even thought of half of those. Such great points!

    Happy A-Z! It's nice to meet you!

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    1. Thank you! It's nice to meet you, too!

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  7. I got an ereader fairly early on, but I don't think I genuinely appreciated it until I bought The Hunger Games on my kindle at about 11pm one night. I've gone out at all hours to buy chocolate, but I think my brain would have cratered if I'd had to wait until bookstores were open to continue on to Catching Fire. :)

    As long as it's a good story, I don't care how it comes (television, movie screen, radio, print book, ereader, fireside storyteller), but I appreciate the speed at which the kindle lets me feed my story addiction!

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    1. I read the first two on my iPad. The last one I'd already reserved at the library. One of the great things about reading on an e-reader is that it's less tempting and harder to flip ahead (either accidentally or on purpose) so there's less spoilers!

      I agree, a story is a story, no matter the medium. :)

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  8. I LOATH e-books. I refuse to ever read them. Laughed like a crazy person when my dad and I were on a flight to visit family and they made him turn his "book" off with all the rest of the electronics. My book had no on/off switch. Print book win.
    Great post and happy A-Z blogging.

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    1. That's awesome. Print book win indeed. :D

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Right there with S.L. - never used any kind of reader but the idea of not holding the printed novel makes me... cringe? (Well... maybe not that extreme! LOL!) Love those paperbacks - might not be able to do all that nifty stuff with a PB but they are always best. =)

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    1. Yes, you can't really beat a good paperback. I won't ever give up real books, but I don't mind reading an e-book from time to time. :)

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  10. I still haven't made the E-reader transition, but as I'm running out of room to store books with my current addiction, it's definitely coming. I love hearing from readers who adore them and the pros and cons...great post!

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    1. Thanks, Kristi! The great thing about transitioning to an E-reader is not only that books are easier to store, but they're almost always cheaper. :)

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  11. I don't actually think paper (real) books are here to stay. There are a few reasons:
    1. the prices of e-book readers will continue to drop
    2. the price of paper and of books will continue to rise
    a. the price of depletable resources continues to go up
    b. as fewer people buy paper books (and this is happening now), the cost of books will rise
    3. at some point, there will be a tipping point where actual paper books will be considered a luxury item and only the rich will really be able to afford them. They will become a symbol of the class divide.

    I could be wrong, but this is where I see it going when I look at the overall situation as objectively as I can. No matter how much I love the feel of a book in my hands (I don't own an e-reader, but I'm sure I'll be forced to get one at some point).

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    1. Good point.

      However, before that happens we would need to see electronics becoming more wide spread in even third world and impoverished countries. But for that to happen, like I said, Internet access and electricity need to become more available (I know in some countries Internet access has been made a human right).

      Personally, though, I don't see real books disappearing for a long, long time. :)

      Thanks for your comment!

      Delete
  12. I recently bought an e-reader and I must admit that I did a wonderful choice... I love everything regarding this small and portable device. It's great that I can download so many eBooks from All you can books and read them when I have a little spare time.
    Of course, I'll continue reading printed books, because it's my passion having a big, diversified library with hundreds of titles.

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    1. I'd like to have an enormous library as well. I sometimes collect books I'm not really interested in, just so I can have them.

      Glad you're enjoying your ereader! They are pretty amazing. :)

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  13. Great post. I'm not sure I could ever switch to E-books but you made some very good, convincing points!

    Nikki – inspire nordic

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    1. Thank you, Nikki!

      One of the great things is that you don't have to entirely switch over to ebooks. You can use the ereader for times it would be convenient, and you can read real books the rest of the time. :)

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  14. A great post :) I'll always be a supporter on traditional books, purely for the way they feel.

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    1. Thank you. :)

      You can't really beat the feeling of a real, smooth print book in your hands. :)

      Delete
  15. Ha, I'm a training librarian and we go into this so much!! You make a good point about not everyone being able to afford an e-reader, more than that though I always try and make the point some of us just don't like reading a screen, I personally enjoy breaking in the spine of a new book.

    Also borrowing books - you can lend a physical book to a friend for an infinite amount of time but as I understand it the likes of kindle won't let you for longer than 2 weeks, bad if you're a slow reader.

    I'm a traditionalist, I won't ever own an e-reader until it has the words DON'T PANIC in large friendly letters!

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    1. Ah yes, I do love breaking in the spine of a new book. Also, I love being able to tell which books on my shelf are the most read by the condition they're in. :)

      On the Kindle you can only lend an ebook out once, and then only for 2 weeks, which is kind of sad. But there are all sorts of copyright issues, I believe.

      You might be able to engrave the words "Don't panic" on the back of the e-reader... ;)

      Delete
    2. OK, good I'm not the only one... I wrote "don't panic" on mine with a Sharpie

      Delete
  16. Great post! I have a Nook. I've owned my e-reader since June/July 2010 and I love it. That's not to say I've turned my back on books. I do still go to the library on occasion. But I love the convenience of my Nook. When my husband and I go on vacation I don't have to worry about how many books to pack. I just load up my Nook and I'm good to go - saving sooooo much space. Also, I read while I'm getting ready for work in the morning. The cover I bought for my Nook is an easel-type, so that it stands up. That makes it easier to read. When I'm reading a book, I have to prop it open with whatever's handy (tube of toothpaste, bottle of lotion, whatever).

    I agree that I think books are here to stay, but I think e-reader aren't going anywhere either.

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    1. I have an easel cover for the iPad. I absolutely love it (and it keeps my hands warm. Electronics can get so cold!)

      Yes, I think e-readers are most definitely here to stay. Like I said, they're both useful in their own way!

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  17. I wanted an e reader long before ebooks or the readers were invented. Ever since i saw something similar on Star Trek. I am a voracious reader and have been known to finish full length novels in a matter of hours,so the convinence of being able to carry many books in ebook format is pretty awesome. But the fact that I can "visit" the library 24 hours a day from right here at the computer is the biggest selling point for me. I will admit though, it was difficult to get used to at first and I do sometimes miss my old paper printed friends

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Thoughts?

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