eReaders Vs. Traditional Books: Musings


When I started this blog, I mentioned in my introduction that I'm not all that crazy about eReaders, despite owning one. I am very, very slowly being won over by my 2 year old Kindle, but I still wouldn't say to any of my friends hedging over buying an eReader "You have to get this!"
Maybe I'm wrong about all this - maybe it's completely inevitable that someday flesh & blood paper & ink books will entirely be replaced, as most things seem to be these days, with digital books. Personally, I pray never to live to see the day. Nothing is comforting about laying in bed with the dead glow of your Nook's screen, when you compare the experience to the same with a paper book. I agree, eReaders are practical for a lot of reasons:
  • You can keep as many titles on the one device as you please, including magazines and newspapers (thus making meat-space clutter and recycling less of an issue)
  • You can get whatever titles you need from where-ever you happen to be
  • If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can download the app for the Kindle & Nook for free and read a book where-ever you happen to be. (I admit, this is one of my favorite things about eReaders)
  • If you've got an Audiable account, your device can read to you while you work
  • If you find a line that you like, at least with my Kindle, it get's saved into it's own little file (which is my 2nd favorite feature)
  • If you're reading something you don't want to be judged for reading, like, say a trashy romance novel, no one can see the cover of your book. This is actually one of the reasons why eReaders are so popular with fans of that genre.
Now, I don't fear that eReaders really will eclipse paper & ink books in our lifetime. That's not the American way. People like having options - Americans like to be able to have a preference. True, books may become some eccentric little niche market - like lomography film and record collecting - but I guess that's one of the blessings of the American Hipster culture. And God Bless 'em for it!
Now, if anyone has ever complained about having a house filled with books, I haven't heard it. So I don't suppose there are many disadvantages to having a few well stocked book shelves. As my dearest friend Jader Bomb once mentioned to me, when you walk into a house you can tell right away what sort of person lives there based on if they have books or not - not even what kind of books they read, just the fact that they have them. I remember reading somewhere else that in my dear home-state the average family only has three books per household, and I find that most distressing indeed. (One of those books is probably a bible, unread, and the 2nd is a phone book. The 3rd, if I had to wager a guess, is Green Eggs and Ham. Pure speculation, but still.) Here is why I will never give up on real, paper & ink books:
  • With an eReader you need a disposable income to buy the reader in the first place, then to fill it up. With actual books, you don't necessarily have to have an income at all.
  • eReaders may be better for the trees, but not for the overall environment. Buying books used, borrowing them from the library, and trading with friends keeps books out of the landfill. Also, there is a slimmer chance that child workers assembled them over-seas - which we cannot grantee for your Nook.
  • Books never have to be recharged.
  • Buying books help support your local economy - or a giant internet marketplace.
  • You look so much smarter sitting in a cafe reading from a book.
Well, neither are perfect, and at the end of the day no one cares how you chose to read your book, just that you read a frickin book!!
Til next time, my little Nibblers

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