Ebooks and Their Readers


At a past writer’s conference, one of the presenters gave a talk on the ontology of books.  His main point seemed to be that the ebook was a failure. It was a failure because it did not give the emotional satisfaction of a book.  It was a failure because an ebook cost as much or more to produce than a book.  He spoke about the printing industry and the emotional bond he had with his father through his father’s library.

At the time, I partially agreed.  I had no knowledge of the printing industry and how it compared to ebook production and his statements seemed reasonable.  My personal experience with my Kindle was a love/hate experience, but the love slightly outweighed the hate.  Sure the Kindle was expensive, needed to be charged, could be broken, and did not have the tactile feel of a book.  But I did find it convenient to carry.  I am usually reading several books at a time and don’t’ always know which one I will feel like reading in a particular situation.  It is also convenient not to have to move the book light every time I turn a page.  Yes, I read at night in bed.

As I have used it over the years, however, I have found the benefits to outweigh the detriments.  The Kindle is great for notes.  I don’t carry a notebook when I read; I lose notebooks.  Nor do I carry a highlighter or post-its.  The Kindle lets me mark passages and refer to them later.  If I have forgotten to mark a passage, I can do a search.  The search function is very useful when I review a book.  I can easily count the number of times an author has used a word or term.  And when I am ready to write my review, I can go back through my pages of notes and pick out quotes to use in the review.  My notes give me a link back to their location in the book so I can check context.

What don’t I like?  Sure, the battery lasts a long, long time, but I dread the day when I pick it up to write a review and it says “low battery.”   If that does happen, I can go to kindle.amazon.com and find my notes, but not link to the context.  Kindle for PC or Mac or Smartphone lets you sync with your computer or phone.  You can find your notes and link to the context.  For some books this does not work at all.  If you, as I do, acquire some of your books from a source other than Amazon, you may not be able to see your notes anywhere but your Kindle.  (*Some of the publishers I review for have their own download link for review copies.)

Library books are available for the Kindle but they are limited.  I had been hoping that borrowing with the Kindle would provide a better experience than the library.  I don’t usually borrow library books, because I have trouble returning them by the due date.  EBooks can be borrowed for two weeks only.  That short time really doesn’t bother me because there are so few books available that I would want to read.

As a writer, I keep track of the publishing industry.  The latest figures show eBooks outselling paper books.  And why not?  An eBook is instantly accessible, never smells musty, never becomes damaged.  It’s a different method of reading but the words and thoughts are the same.  Whether you prefer paper or eBook is up to you.  I’ll push to have my novels published in both forms, but will read them on my Kindle.  They were composed on a computer; why not read them on an electronic device?  Let me know what you think about eBooks and Ereaders.  Are you using them?  Do you love or hate them?

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