Reflections: 5 ways e-books are better
I didn’t think I would like e-books.
I was wrong.
Regular readers have heard me say that before. My first Kindle (one of the very first generation, which was released in 2007) was a gift.
Now, I’d had a very long history with paperbooks (p-books).
I’d been a bookstore manager, I used to travel with a separate suitcase just for books, I always had an “emergency book” with me (in case, tragedy of tragedies, I finished one while I was away from the house and had nothing to read), I had a floor to ceiling library (in a room which our kid eventually noticed was bigger than our kid’s bedroom), and owned books that were 100 years old.
That doesn’t mean I was a rich person who indulged in books as a hobby.
Those floor to ceiling bookshelves? They weren’t built-ins. We bought them “as is” from Ikea…some of them were as low as $5. Yep , five dollars for an assembled bookcase.
They don’t all exactly match, and we bought some of them with scratches and other imperfections.
I figured, hey, you aren’t going to see those anyway. I was right on that…the shelves are often two deep, with another layer with the books sideways on top.
Our best friends have said they will never help us move again, because of all the books. 🙂
I sometimes had the same book in several editions (The Wizard of Oz), for example, because I liked the actual morphology and design of the books, not just the words in them.
Like a lot of book people, I sort of dismissed e-books. Oh, I wouldn’t say I was dismissive of them, and I wouldn’t have denigrated anybody for reading them…they just seemed…ephemeral.
According to Isaac Bonewits, author of
the Law of Contagion in magic (Bonewits has done non-fiction analysis of how magic is believed to work) is
“Objects or beings in physical or psychic contact with each other continue to interact after separation.”
I, irrationally, felt that physical books had a special connection with me.
I wouldn’t say I actually thought that was the case, but I felt it.
Books that I had since I was a child seemed almost alive to me, like old friends.
If I knew a book had been owned by someone else in particular, I felt (not thought, felt) that it was “imbued with their essence” in some way.
E-books? They weren’t going to have any of that.
However, I was willing to give it a try…you know, like augmented reality of Stephen King’s “3-D sound book” decades ago. I didn’t think it would actually become part of my life, but it would be fun to experience. Sort of like…you don’t take a roller coaster to work, but they can be great on vacation. 😉
Well, I would never have predicted that I would do all of my regular reading with e-books!
Yes, I go back every once in a while to look something up in one of my p-books, but my day to day reading? That’s all e.
Why is that?
Part of it, I think, is that I am good at changing my positions.
I’m always open to other ideas.
I love looking at a behavior of mine, sometimes one of which I am completely unaware, and finding a better way…and most importantly, being able to make that shift (and love it).
I want to be very clear: I didn’t change to e-books to be trendy. 😉 I certainly did it before it was a trend, for one thing, but also, logically, I think they are better for my day to day reading.
Not better in every single circumstance. There is nothing wrong with reading p-books, and I want to see them all preserved. I don’t like art made out of books, where the books are destroyed in the process (like plates with embedded book covers…I’ve seen that sort of thing at arts and crafts fairs).
However, if I just want to read a book? It’s always an e-book now.
Here are five reasons why.
I would have laughed at the idea that I would like software reading me a book! This has been the biggest boon, the biggest shift. I typically listen to TTS for hours a week in the car. The technology has gotten much better over the years, which helps…but the main thing, as I like to say, is that driving is no longer “wasted non-reading time”. 😉 If I’m in a position where I can as easily sight read as listen to text-to-speech, I’m going to sight read. That’s not always the case, though. Much of technology becomes adopted because it is “better than nothing”. That’s going to be the case with robots (which I write about quite often in my The Measured Circle blog. Is a robot caregiver in the home better than a licensed social worker for an autistic child? No. Is it better than nothing? Absolutely! You can’t afford to have a social worker in every autistic child’s home, and I can’t sight read while I’m driving. I would not consume books anywhere near as quickly as I do because of TTS. I think publishers make a mistake when they block the access, partially for that reason.
2. The invulnerability of e
When I read a p-book, you usually can’t tell it has been read. I don’t even break the spine on a mass market paperback. That is, though, hard work. I love that when I read an e-book, I can’t degrade it! When someone is using our guest Kindle, they can’t mess up “my copy” of the book. I used to keep several copies of some books around (like The Man of Bronze, the first Doc Savage book) so I could just give them to people, rather than loaning them a copy. I didn’t want to have to worry about the damage…with e-books, that’s never an issue.
3. Increasable text size
This has become more important for me over time. As I write this, I am wearing one dollar glasses from the dollar store (I now also buy very inexpensive reading glasses from Amazon, but these literally came from a dollar store). I do tend to wear them when I read on a Kindle…but it’s really nice not to have to do that. I’d probably be into large print books now if I were reading p-books…and those are expensive, physically larger, and not always available.
4. Simultaneous Device Licenses
The ability for us to have the same book on multiple devices at the same time for one download price has changed (for the better) my reading relationship with my Significant Other. When a new Stephanie Plum comes out, we now read it at the same time (thanks to TTS, I tend to finish first, but we start at the same time). We can talk about it afterwards. I’d never read a Stephanie Plum before the Kindle. My SO would read one…and then give it to a sibling or someone else. Reading a book is one of the most intimate acts there is (just you connecting directly to the author through the words). Talking about a book with someone else, therefore, reveals some of your inner self. I wouldn’t have thought about this being a benefit of e-books, but it really is.
5. You ain’t heavy…you’re my e-book
It’s absolutely amazing to be able to easily carry ten books with me and switch back and forth whenever I want! I always tended to be reading more than one book concurrently. I would often have a book in each room in the house, and just read whichever one was where I was. I kept that emergency book I mentioned above in the car, and then I might have two with me. I love, love, love being able to bounce around! With access to wi-fi (which is common where I am), I can also download more if I want. One big reason why the Kindle exploded the e-book market and other devices hadn’t (there were more than ten EBRs…E-Book Readers available in the USA market when the Kindle was released) was that you could download wirelessly. Before I got the Kindle, I still thought of reading an e-book as either doing it on a computer, or plugging a device into a computer, downloading the book and transferring it over a period of perhaps minutes…with very little capacity on the device to hold books. I thought e-books weren’t more convenient than my home library, I thought they were less so. The Kindle completely inverted that: e-books are far more convenient for me than p-books! I think my SO had the best line. In the early days of the Kindle, someone sneeringly said to my SO, “I like the feel of a book in my hand.” My SO replied, “I like the feel of a hundred in mine.” Exactly.
Those are just five of the reasons, and there are more. I would miss each and every one of those if I had to go back to just p-books.
How about you? Think back…what have been the biggest advantages for you of e-books? Did you first try an e-book as a lark, as an experiment…or did you already know you would like them? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!
* When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help!
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.