Monday, August 2, 2010

The future of books?

In the spirit of my brief visit to the 'first' world (land of FREE high-speed internet, waitresses with iPhones, Starbucks, fast food, and so much more), I have been playing with new toys and I have discovered... The e-book.

I know, I know, they've been around for a while, but this is my first time experiencing them, and I have discovered that I am a fan! Despite my love for ink-on-page, I am finding that there are are a few things I really like about the electronic format:

- Portability: as a frequent traveler and someone who can devour a 500 page novel in one sitting, being able to carry multiple books in one slim device is an awesome advantage for me!! Gone are the days of lugging multiple paperbacks across several continents... Or the days of finishing my book and realizing I still have 8 hours left in an airplane...

- Text size: I know it sounds silly, but I love that I can re-size the text to suit my needs. As someone with poor eyesight I am forever wishing they would print things just a wee bit bigger, so I love being able to make the text bigger or smaller as suits me!

- Paperless: Ok, I am a little on both sides of the fence on this one. One of the great joys of a good book is passing it on when you are done, well-thumbed pages and all. But how many
books have I read and then thought 'well that certainly wasn't worth the paper it was printed on'? There are thousands of stores filled with millions of paper books, most of which will be read only once and then left to fill a shelf? No, I think I like the lower paper footprint of the e-book a lot!!

- Availability: A big plus for me, and anyone else who lives several islands away from the nearest English-language bookstore, is that as long as I am connected to the Internet, I can buy books!!! After 6 years on an island without a bookstore... THIS... IS.... AWESOME. :)

- Interactive and Educational content: The number of interactive books and gsmes for kids are growing by the minute, and they are great! From music, to learning the alphabet, to interactive stories, to spelling and math games, e-books are surely going to be huge resoures for the new generation... And they are great attention-grabbers, too! (Find me another toy that can contain enough gsmes to distract a toddler for hours on end!)

- Multimedia: Some of the new e-books come with embedded audio and video content, kind of like the special features on a DVD. Personally, I think the kids books are ahead so far, but there are a few cool things out already like those create-your-own-ending books, and I bet we will see more multimedia content in time.

Overall, readers, I am a fan, especially for trashy summer novels and mindless airplane reads. Iknow that nothing quite replies the joy of handling a well-loved book... But for the 9/10 books that I will probably never read again, I am an e-book convert!! Oh, and they are about half the price of a paperback, and I never need to worry about losing my place. Bonus!

What are your thoughts and experiences with the new medium?


  1. I have the same problem with the ebook as I do with the endless updating of iPhones and the constant necessity for accessories for the Wii. It's more pointless plastic. Books are sustainable by the very fact that they are printed on paper which y'know, biodegrades. And yes, you cut down trees to make paper but 99.9% of paperbacks these days are made from trees grown for purpose (I forget the specific name off the top of my head). For the record I think it's time we got rid of the hardback run on books too.

    Honestly, I think the world could do without more plastic devices.

    Also, from a writer's perspective, they are going to start making even less money than they already do per book, which in turn will mean less decent reads. Cheaper rarely means better unfortunately.

    I do see the appeal from ther perspective of living somewhere where getting English language books is hard though. Not sure what I'd do without something to read. Read Bleak House over and over again probably!!! :)

  2. I love, love, love books. I hoard them. I could never give them up. But, I definitely see the advantages of ebooks that you have listed. I think it would be especially nice for traveling...then no one can see that I'm reading the Twilight series :D

  3. I too am a huge fan of books. I have them in every room in my house. There is just something about a well worn book!

    However, with the review you've written, I can see it as a great alternative for traveling. Since I stay close to home most of the time, it looks like regular old paperback will have to work for now.

    What e-book medium do you use? Have you had any problems with it?

  4. I like the idea for traveling, however right now I am really into yoga books (surprise :) and find the selection very slim.
    Also, as a backpacker I brought along one book and kept swapping them in hostels.. minimal cost and read a lot of books I may not have normally, which was pretty cool. Maybe one day, but not yet!
    (P.S., I've got a contest going on if you care to enter!)

  5. Looks like the book industry is safe for now LOL!!

    @Rachel - excellent point about plastic devices, so true. But looking at the piles and piles of books in new bookstores I can't shake the impression of wastefulness. I love used bookstores though! Re writer's cut, I wonder if we will start to see more opportunities for self-publishing as has happened in he online music industry?

    @Babs - I read the Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon) over and over... Now when I am on the go I can take all 8 books with me, whee! ;)

    @Heather - I am using the iPad, which I received as a gift! So far, no glitches. It has been a smooth, positive experience. I have found the availability of books online to be pretty good, downloading takes less than a minute, and there are even lots of books available for free, mostly classics. For traveling I love that it is an all-in-one device foe books, movies, music, and the Internet with all my yoga blogs of course!

    @Callah - Yes, I have read some great and wacky stuff through book swaps too! My yoga books are resources, and I would never totally trade them for an e-version. Then again it might be nice to take copies when I travel, too! I bet in a few years we will see interactive yoga manuals and such, too. I will check out your giveaway!

  6. I hate the idea of an ereader and all it means to the world of literature, but I grudgingly admit it might be useful in some certain instances : )

    If I were to buy one, it would be the iPad. It has so much else to offer, I like the interface, and with the free kindle app it's like having a built-in kindle!

  7. Now I've got e-readers on my mind- I just discovered all the classics that are FREE! Maybe down the road I'll think about taking the leap! (I always treat myself to a new electronic toy on Boxing day!) :)