Monday, February 14, 2011

To E (book) or not to E

These days my closest companion seems to be my Kindle. I got it late in January – it was supposed to be a Christmas present but there was a backorder – and, though I’m still reading conventional print books, I’ve become a convert.

Just for you who e-readers are still alien technology: my Kindle is about the size of trade paperback, but half the thickness of an ordinary book. And half the weight. On the other hand, it can store hundreds of books within its slim frame. When you shut it down, the e-reader remembers where you were in the book and starts it up again on its page. “Turning pages” is easy. Just push a button.

In addition to the standard ability to download and read hundreds of thousands of books, most e-readers also have a few other features that make them in some ways superior to standard print books.

First, you can adjust the size of the print to your eyes. This makes it an attractive option for older readers who need larger print (but don’t want the bigger, heavier book.)

Second, you can highlight passages and bookmark them. This is really convenient for taking notes. For example, Phil and I are thinking about moving to France and bought an e-book about buying a house in France. As I read it, there were things I wanted to mention to Phil. All I did was bookmark them. When it came time for us to talk about what I’d learned, all I had to do was click on the “Read my bookmarks” command and it brought them up, so I could quote to Phil chapter and verse.

Third, there are literally hundreds of books that you can download for free or for only pennies.

On the other hand, downloading a book is so easy – just push the “buy” button and the book is delivered via your wireless network – that it could become a real nightmare for bookstore addicts such as myself. I’m rationing my purchases and reminding myself that my print library still contains 50 to 100 books I haven’t read.

Is print going to become obsolete? With e-book purchases only 6% of current sales, I’d say not in the near future. There’s also the issue of finding a common platform. Different e-readers take different platforms and this is becoming a nightmare for publishers committed to providing books for all their distributers.

But everyone I know who has them has become hooked. (Our household will have a second e-reader by the end of the week, as I’ve gotten one for Phil for his birthday.) And everyone I know who’s had a chance to “play” with one becomes a convert, as well. I think we’re looking at a trend.


  1. Vicky, good for you for getting a Kindle. My books are just going up there, starting with The Comet, and although I have heard Kindle isn't too popular in your part of the world I'm hoping that will change. It will eliminate the postage costs of shipping from the U.S. to anywhere "down under," which I think can only be a good thing.

  2. Thats one of the main reasons I bought a Kindle. There is btw, an, and it was a couple of Aussies who showed me thiers and got me thinking I liked it better than the Kobo I was looking at (which is also available here.)

  3. Sorry for all the spelling mistakes. Don't know where my head is at. I'm having one of my dyslectic days.