Thoughtful Thursday: E-books, v6832567298459

Seriously, it seems that all the media does anymore is talk about the decline of the print book.  And with Google announcing it’s e-book service this week, the demise of the paper book has again been prophesied. But, in the spirit of Monty Python, I would like to proclaim, on behalf of books, “I’m not dead yet!”

Reasons why books will always be a part of my life.

1. I’m an academic. I teach political theory. That means I teach texts that are thousands of years old. So not only do I have my own notes in the margins, I have my teaching notes in the margins. I’ve tried e-readers, and though you can annotate and mark, there is something radically different about writing your own notes rather than typing.  Because I like to draw diagrams and arrows, and number things and write “Pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbtttt!!!” in the margins, that is especially hard to convey in e-texts, where the notes are detached from the actual text.

2. Flipping back and forth is difficult. If I want to compare multiple passages on an e-book reader, it’s a pain. With an actual text, I can put a finger in one spot, and a finger in the other. Much easier.

3. I won’t be out a lot of money if I drop a paperback in the bathtub. I don’t think hairdrying a Kindle is part of the approved owner’s manual techniques.

4. Books smell good. Kindles smell like copper.

5. Conflict electronics.

6. I like taking Aquinas’ multi-volume Summa Theologiae into class and dropping it on the table. It keeps students from whining (as much) about the little bit of it I made them read. You don’t get the same effect with an electronic file.

7. Books will survive solar flares and electromagnetic pulse weapons.

8. I have a three year old. Him tearing a page is less traumatic than breaking the screen.

9. Books are easier to swap with friends. I don’t lose my entire collection when I give one book away. I lend you my reader, and then what am I supposed to do? Go outside?

10. I am a reader. I could go all hermeneutical on you, but I am the reader. Not some piece of electronics.

11. I like browsing people’s bookshelves to get a sense of their personality. That’s much less intrusive than flipping through someone’s electronic device.

Having said all that, I’m going to try teaching using e-texts next semester. The school is pushing us to reduce costs to students, so we’ll see how it goes. Who knows, maybe I am being overly-Luddite in my approach. But my final reason for preferring books to e-texts is personal. My dad saves news clippings and cards from his kids in between the pages of books that he is reading when he gets them. Going through his books is like discovering a journal of my dad’s life. Books are personal in a way I don’t see e-texts being.

So, add your own reason to prefer books to e-books, or tell me I’m misguided and out of touch. And tell me which reader I should get for next semester. :) The most convincing comment will earn you a book from our stacks. And don’t forget to enter our “Anticipate the Best of 2010” contest from last week while you’re at it.


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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57 comments

  1. I don’t think that cookbooks would work well on e-readers. All of my favorite recipes are stained. Tomato sauce and e-reader? Not compatable.

  2. I’m just going to sit back and watch the device wars to see who wins. I don’t want to be left holding the Betamax. *g*

  3. Regarding the reader to get: GET AN iPAD. Seriously or an iPad2 when they come out.

    Check this out on my iPad I have:
    The Kindle App
    The B&N App (Barnes & Noble)
    Apple iBooks
    Google Ebooks
    DropBox + Stanza App (download in Dropbox – send to Stanza)

    In my B&N App – I have approximately 10 books – some of which are “lendable” meaning I can let other B&N readers read it (where it becomes unavailable on my iPad until they return it or the lending time expires)

    In my Kindle App I have 2 or 3 books (I prefer the B&N app) Kindle now does allow lending I believe though.

    In my Stanza app I have approximately 20-30 books.

    I don’t know when I’ll have time to read all these, but I always have them with me.

  4. I agree with a lot of your reasons, Ruth. Two things I’d like to add:

    1. If I’m still paying $8.99 or more a pop, I’d like something physical, that I can own and possess. As eBooks work now, with things like DRM, they’re more like software; meaning you don’t so much own them as rent them. That doesn’t work for me. It’s also, I’ve noticed, one of the many, many aspects that the people championing eBooks have either failed to notice or refuse to acknowledge.

    2. In all the hue and cry over eBooks, I’ve yet to see anyone mention schools. Yes, books are expensive, but eBook readers for every student? That doesn’t strike me as less costly. I find it disconcerting that no one seems to be thinking about this. And eBooks are not, at this time, priced lower than paper books. What makes more sense? Expensive eBook readers or paper books that can be read by dozens if not hundreds of students over the course of a number of years?

    Really, as far as I’ve seen, most of the noise about eBooks is coming from people who want to sell eBooks, i.e. Amazon, indie authors, etc. And most of us by now have heard the whispers that Amazon might not be being entirely honest about its sales numbers (who’s surprised now?). But the idea of paper books being dead is far from a reality yet.

  5. Hélène /

    The dropping of the Summa Theologiae is a wonderful idea ! Think I’ll borrow it for a try :D

  6. I view it as a bit context dependent. When I’m at home, I tend to like a physical book. But when I travel, which I do regularly, particularly on long trips, being able to carry a single device with a dozen books or more, rather than weighing down half of my luggage with physical books? The eReader is a Godsend.

    As for students/teaching, I think the expense/savings depends on the level and the subject matter. eBooks are clearly not as convenient for marking/writing, as of yet (although tablet/laptop reader software could do this quite well if designed properly…imagine not only being able to highlight and draw on the book, but to record and attach audio commentary to specific passages?), but once a student has a reader that expense goes away. Two college textbooks may be more than the cost of an eReader…if one can get real discounts on those in eBook form, it would definitely save money. On the other hand, if you’re mostly reading classics…it’ll take a bit longer to recoup the cost, although most classics are available for free from sources like Gutenberg, so maybe that’s not that bad afterall.

  7. That’s why I am piloting using e-texts in my theory classes. They can download a free copy of Plato’s dialogues, and read it on their laptop, desktop, cellphone, e-reader, whatever. Our school already requires students to own a laptop, so that’s not an expense. So theoretically, I can teach the entire course without making them buy a single text. So, we minimize financial costs. I want to pilot for a season and see what other costs – classroom environment, learning, etc. – we are going to be incurring before I make a choice long term about using e-texts in class.

  8. Many of my students already have iPADs or other readers and they use it to access the internet, our course platform that has their assignments and grades, etc. (They can even submit their assignments this way.) So, ebooks for them is a big money saver (they cost much less than traditional textbooks). Because my field (neuroscience) changes so quickly, large print books only last 3 years or so — we are constantly updating editions. Also, of course, they can carry all of their books easily on one device. For a full-time student, their books may weigh 20 pounds!

    I offer both options when an ebook is available. Students can purchase print or electronic copies. Everybody’s happy.

  9. Oh, and as for the device, Ruth, you’ll want an iPad because you can use it for your work. I purchased a Kindle (before the iPad came out) because I didn’t want to read something that was backlit and I like the Kindle a lot, but I’ve used an iPad and it has a much better interface. You can use a sepia-colored background and decrease the contrast to make it more like e-ink. I hope someday the iPad will offer e-ink with their Kindle App — I don’t know if that’s a possibility.

  10. I’m not referring to college students. I’m referring, of course, to grade school. Unless companies make it legal to share eBooks, any time a class reads a book for school, all the copies will need to be paid for separately. And that’s not to mention the cost of devices.

    Students in grade school and their families might not have the option to go out and buy an eReader, but schools are unlikely to be able to afford having them for all their students. And they’d have to, unless of course they a) didn’t give their students any homework or b) expected them to spend further money on eCopies for at home.

  11. I keep stuff in my books too. It’s fun to re-read and come across a ticket stub or a note and take a trip down memory lane. I like the feel of a real book. That said, I do have an e-reader and it is nice for hauling around with me since I can have multiple books on there. So far I have only downloaded classics since they were free. I wasn’t liking it much until the latest upgrade that allows the ‘pages’ to turn faster. Before that it was too slow for me.
    I haven’t tried using it in the bath yet. I’m waiting for the built in screen in the bathroom wall so I can read without fear of dropping it.
    I’m seeing more and more high school students investing in the ipads. My youngest may be getting one since her private school has started giving them the option of buying traditional text or e-text. She carries about 20 pounds of books right now and an Ipad makes a lot of sense for that.

  12. I have to say I love my Amazon Kindle. When it comes to pleasure reading, all I can say is don’t knock it till you try it.

    I really didn’t think I’d ever want an electronic book. For a guy that works with IT for a living, I’m about the most non-tech, tech around. I swear I was the last person in the USA to get a CD player, and I still don’t have an Ipod or blue-ray dvd. And like probably everyone that comes to this site, I love books, always have.
    But when I moved recently, moving and finding space for all my books was a real problem. And I’d just been curious about the Kindle since it first came-out, so I took the plunge and got one last Jan (of course that was right before they cut the price. :( )Now you’d have to pry it from my cold dead fingers. There are even books I haven’t read yet because they aren’t available in Kindle and I’m holding out.

    They really are more convenient then books when reading for pleasure. The print is easy on the eyes and I take mine every where. You only need one hand to use it, so like when I smoke a cigar on my back porch, eat some munchies, or drink a brew, I don’t have to free-up my other hand to turn the page. (and for bathtub readers –I’m a shower only person myself, but a ziplock sandwich bag is perfect fit. When it’s misty out that’s what I do.)
    But what the very best, is; 1. The one-click dictionary. I never realized how many words I just skipped over when I didn’t know what they meant before having a Kindle
    2. You can buy a book anywhere at anytime – Just finished book 1 in a series, immediately start book 2 with a simple browse and click.
    I could go on and on.

    It does take a while to get that same warm and content feeling of ownership with having ebooks over physical ones, but once you do, it’s like taking your whole library with you where ever you go.

  13. I would argue that flipping back and forth between passages is easier, not harder. Marking and flipping between marked pages is simple, and easier than trying to use your fingers to mark pages – and you get both of your hands free!

    It may cost more to replace a single book than a ereader, but in many cases (fire, flood, tornado, etc etc) it would be cheaper to replace one ereader and re-download all your content than have to replace each book individually. With an ereader, once you buy the book it is yours, and you never have to pay money for that content again.

    Ereaders do not mildew, fade from UV exposure, get loose bindings, get eaten by bugs, or any of the other things print is susceptible too

    Ereaders eliminate the need for locating a book at a store. It can be 2am, in the middle of a blizzard on a major holiday and you can still get your book. And no more diving around to every store in town because you can’t find the particular book you’re looking for (seriously, why do stores always seem to carry every book in a series except the one you’re on?)!

    I like to read in bed. Ereaders are so much lighter and easier to handle when laying down.

    You can change the text size to your preference. No more buying large-print editions!

    No more keeping a dictionary around for reference! If I come across an unfamiliar word I can click on it and get a definition instantly.

  14. Beth, my kids use electronic copies of their textbooks. They are available online with a password or the teachers hand out CDs. I don’t know if they can be put on an e-reader. For some classes the teachers have them use the print books in school and the e-book at home so they don’t have to carry around so many textbooks.

    Many parents complain about the huge backpacks that the kids have to carry around. They are very heavy! We go through so many backpacks because they just can’t hold up. I bought a heavy-duty one for my oldest son a couple of months ago: $40! It would be nice to have the option to have the books on e-reader for parents who are willing to buy them.

    Textbook publishers (general and higher ed) don’t charge as much for e-books as print books (those big glossy textbooks are expensive to make), so it would actually save money. Some textbook publishers give access to the e-book when you buy the print book.

    And a bonus is that classics are free. You wouldn’t believe how much I’d save if I could stop buying classic paperbacks for my kids.

  15. To what Amber says: Recently one of my kids had to have the book How to Read Literature Like a Professor for school the next day (he neglected to tell me). I couldn’t find it at any store within 20 miles (and I live in a suburb of a huge city). So, I downloaded it on my Kindle and let him take that to school. A month later, I found myself stuck in a restaurant waiting for people who had gotten lost. My Kindle was in my purse, so I had plenty of books to choose from. I read How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

  16. @Kat- Here’s a free app I found that is awesome for converting eBook formats. I’m sure it would work for the books on those CD’s
    http://calibre-ebook.com/

  17. Oh, and thanks, Greg, for the email about the free James Enge book from Pyr. I saw it on John Ottinger’s blog and was going to email you!! I downloaded it and look forward to reading it next time I’m stuck in a restaurant. HERE’S THE LINK FOR OTHERS.

  18. LOL, I was just going to mention that if you keep your eyes peeled, publishers are offering free ebooks to get you hooked on a series.

    Also I think its Tor that now has a bunch of short-stories available for Kindle that run from like $0.99 to $3.99, that were previously only available in anthologies or magazines.

    Speaking of that, I don’t think you’ll ever see an out-of-print eBook. I wanted to read Stover’s The Blade of Tyshalle and its long been out –of-print, Used copies were outrageous, but after I got my Kindle, as soon as I was ready to read it, I had it in under a minute.

    I was/am pretty miffed about the price increase for the Kindle books,-which, by the way, is mostly the fault of the huge publishing house Macmillion forcing Amazon to charge more. . One of the reasons I got my Kindle to start with was because the ebooks were so cheap when I got it. But if you look around, there’s still a lot of free, nearly free, dirt cheap and reasonably priced Kindle books. And not having to pay shipping saves you a bundle.

  19. The DRM stuff will have to relax before physical books will ever be in any real danger. The fact that swapping paperbacks is time honored tradition , but swapping ebooks is theft points out the fact that this technology is in an early stage. i think it will be a long time before we have to really worry about losing printed books.

  20. As much as I love my Kindle it would be a very sad day if we did ever loose printed books.
    I don’t think it will ever be eBooks only either.
    Besides, when things go all Mad Max tech stuff won’t work anyway. :)

  21. I filled out the “e-book haters meme” the other day on my own blog. Here are the main reasons I wrote down for not converting to e-books:

    2. What’s your single main reason for not reading eBooks?

    I find myself distracted from the message by the medium. I’m just never able to forget that I’m reading something electronically, and it takes away from my enjoyment of the text. I find it harder to focus on the screen, basically. I know this is probably due to the fact that I’ve been reading paper books all my life, but still, there it is.

    3. Are there any other reasons you don’t usually read eBooks?

    I have issues with the DRM. First of all, I want to own the book – not the format I’ve downloaded it in. Secondly, books, in my mind, are communal objects – to be shared, borrowed and loaned, passed on to someone, donated to thrift stores or libraries.
    I also don’t like the idea of a dedicated reader. The iPad is making an improvement here, as it can work as an eBook reader while also doing a thousand other neat things. But I don’t see myself getting a Kindle until it becomes more multifunctional.
    People always say “you didn’t know you didn’t want an iPod until they came around” but I find that this is a faulty analogy, mainly because I enjoy being able to carry my 10,000+ song collection around for when the mood strikes me to hear a specific song or artist, but I never find myself sitting in the park thinking “gee I wish I had that Neal Stephenson book on me right now so I could read a chapter”. (That being said, I know that for students the ability to carry a bunch of texts around in one device must be great.)
    Finally, I just like the feeling of paper books in my hands. I like wandering into a second hand bookstore or a library sale and coming out with a stack of books. I like looking at my bookshelves.

    4. What would it take to get you to read eBooks?

    To be brutally honest, if enough publishers stop sending paper review copies and only provide e-galleys or e-ARC’s or whatever you call them, I might consider it just because it would make financial sense. Also, if someone were to give me an ereader as a gift, I’d probably use it, at least until the novelty wore off.
    And, I don’t rule out buying an iPad at some point because it’s just a neat-looking device, but I make it a point never to buy a first-generation Apple product, because subsequent ones invariably are faster, better and cheaper.
    I also very much like the idea of getting magazines and newspapers in this format, with the newest issue automatically downloading to the device. Kindle doesn’t work for me there, as the black and white screen will kill any visual enjoyment of photography and layout and whatnot, but – again with the iPad – I would switch over to digital subscriptions for the handful of magazines I subscribe to in a heartbeat if Santa dropped an iPad under my tree.

  22. Ebooks vs phsyical books. Why does it have to be an either/or? Can’t it be both?

    I’m a reader. I love to read and the physical medium mostly doesn’t matter to me. It’s the content that’s important. I’ve owned an Amazon Kindle for nearly 3 years now, and am a full convert to ebooks, but I still buy physical books. On my shelves at home I have 5-600 books, and on my Kindle another 5-600. Having said that, here are 10 reasons to go with ebooks over physical books.

    1. Cost. Even with the collusion between the Big 5 publishers ebooks are still cheaper than physical books. I can get copies of the classics for a couple of dollars each, or I can get a new release for 30% off the hardcover price and releases that have been out awhile I can get for $5 give or take. This leaves me more money to buy hardcovers of the authors I really want to support and to buy the “pretty” volumes to decorate my shelves.

    2. Weight. My physical copy of Brandon Sanderson’s “The Way of Kings” weighs a couple of pounds. It’s heavy. My Kindle (even with the cover) weighs less than a pound. Much less strain on my wrists.

    3. Convenience part 1. I’m not going to carry around my Complete William Shakespeare for those instances when I feel like re-reading Henry’s speech at Agincourt. With my Kindle it’s right there at my fingertips and I can bookmark it to return to whenever I want.

    4. Convenience part 2. I’m one of those people who read multiple books at a time. I’ve generally got one or two fiction and one or two non-fiction going on at any one time. If I’m out and about, or at work taking my lunch I don’t want to lug 3 or 4 books around with me. With my Kindle they’re easily accessible.

    5. Convenience part 3. I love, love, love wireless delivery. I’ve bought more books because of that feature than any other reason. I don’t want to wait two weeks to get it at the library, or a week to have it shipped when I can have it in less than 60 seconds.

    6. Searching. Yeah I can’t flip between multiple pages (really you can), but I can search the text for a word or phrase. Can’t remember where you read that sentence? Search through your books to find it. Don’t remember if you own a book? Sort your books by title, or search for that title. Incredibly useful feature.

    7. Bookmarking. I love being able to bookmark my favorite passages. Sure, you can do that with physical books too, but it means either dog-earing the pages or having multiple bookmarks sticking out of your books, which is a nuisance.

    8. Annotating. For studying historical texts I love to be able to highlight a passage and leave a note. Later when I go back to that book I can choose to immediately look at my highlights and notes, which is not something that you can do with a physical book.

    9. Font sizes. At first blush this might seem a bit odd, but it’s not. I love being able to increase the font size in dim light or when my eyes are not working so hot. Try doing that with your physical books.

    10. Project Gutenberg, Google, Archive Library. Those three sources have between them millions of free ebooks. I can download those and transfer to my Kindle with just a few clicks. Sure I can get classics from Barnes & Noble or Amazon or any other retailer but not for free and not near instantaneous. Plus many (most?) of these etexts are not available in a physical format.

    Here are some interesting links. The first is about a high school that’s switched to the Kindle for it’s textbooks. The second is about the advantages to using e-readers (featured are the Kindle and the e-reading apps for the iPad) for speech and cognitive therapy.

    http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2010/09/clearwater-hss-kindle-program.html

    http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2010/11/thanksgiving-for-our-health-abilities.html

  23. Interesting articles, John!
    My two oldest kids are in the International Baccalaureate program and they’ve been talking about buying one of the classes iPads to see if it’s an effective tool. I don’t think this is how we should be spending our tax dollars, but it’s a very small program (about 100 kids out of the whole county), so they can try it to see if it’s cost effective. We do have optional laptop programs in the elementary and middle schools — parents purchase the laptops for those students.

  24. I think I would be much more likely to be an E-reader if it was more multipurpose. Like Kat, I spend too much time on a computer to want to do all my reading there because of eye strain, but if we could get e-ink capability on an iPad interface, I’d probably be sold. I want to be able to search JStor or EbscoHost, download an article, highlight, write notes in the margin with a stylus, draw arrows and stuff, and have it save notes, with an e-ink display. So I guess I want a Kipad.

  25. Ruth.

    Sounds to me like you want a tablet (though they generally stink for reading outdoors). However, the Entourage Edge is a tablet/ereader combo that takes care of that by having two screens–one a dedicated e-reader, the other a touch screen for tablet computing.

    http://www.entourageedge.com/entourage-edge.html

    It comes in two sizes–a 9.7 inch size, which sells for $549 and a 7 inch size which retails for $399.

    Here’s a YouTube video from CES 2010 showing the Entourage in use
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmpy-rUex8k&feature=related

    There are a lot of options out there in the e-reader and tablet markets and there will only be more to come.

  26. I love books. Any kind. Why there is need to be just one kind of books? It’s like saying that only leader-bound books are real thing and everything else is not good. I just got my first e-book reader (PocketBook 360) and I love it. I think that it’s so great to be able to carry a whole library in your pocket. I have about 200 books on it right now and increasing the number every day. Also I have over 700 paper books in my home and love those too.
    I agree with what others said about e-readers, but there is one great thing about e-books that beats the paper book every time. I am from very small country in Europe (Bosnia) and purchasing books I want and is quite difficult. I can buy some in the bookstore but there is not such a great selection and in particular if I am buying books in English and not a bestsellers, there is not that much choice. I can order them online but then I will need to wait for a couple of months to get them or pay about three time more there price for shipping to get them in about week. With e-book I am spoiled for choice and convenience. If I want to read something, I can get it immediately and much much cheaper then what I would pay for paper book. So for me that is the greatest thing with e-books. Especially if you want to reed books in foreign language. Buying them online is a breeze.
    And, I agree with John. Entourage Edge might be just the thing for you. But there is so many options out there and John is right agin, there are going to be even more to come.
    So I say we should get both e-books and paper books. We are all better off as long as there are books around us in any form.

  27. I am an avid reader and I enjoy my Kindle and my library equally. Truly, I do not understand the controversy. To assume that one must be definition be superior to the other in all cases does not make sense to me. I had my students write about DRM and ereaders these past two semesters and so many of them figured that they wouldn’t want an ereader ever because (those who read anyway) like holding books. I love the smell of a new book (first time I open a brand new book, I sniff the pages!) but I also love the convenience of always having the next book in the TBR available on the go.

    Like UNIX and PC or PC and MAC or chocolate and vanilla, there is room for all.

  28. Alma and Trek, I agree with you. I don’t want either print books or e-books to go away. I’m still being a book Luddite for the moment, but I don’t begrudge anyone their e-books because of that. :)

  29. Those of us who like the convenience of e-books would never want the print book to go away — I’m sure all of still enjoy holding and looking at books. After all, that’s why we’re book lovers, right? We became readers before e-readers were available because we love books. Print books will never go away and I don’t know anybody who wants them to.

  30. To eBook haters, I really have to say again; don’t knock it till you try it.
    I had the same arguments against them as everyone has stated. I think anyone who has been an avid reader for most their life and maybe even more so for readers of genre fiction has a sentimental attachment to their books. I still get all warm & fuzzy feeling when I go into a used book store (not so much for the big chains and unfortunately, independent book-sellers are almost non-existent in my area). And this is from a guy who is guilty of buying books based on the cover illustration alone. :)

    As far, as just having the books in your shelf; The Jerry Seinfeld episode where he asks the question, “why do we keep all these books?” and the makes the statement, “for the same reason a hunter displays the heads of the deer he’s killed”, really made me think, and this was before eReaders were popular. LOL

    I can’t speak for any others ereaders then Amazon Kindle, but it’s not anything like looking at computer screen. I work on a PC all day and I’d never tolerate the same when reading for pleasure. Kindle’s electronic ink, actually uses real ink just like a printer does. It’s easier to read then a real book and mine isn’t even the latest version, which is somehow supposed to be even better.

    As far as sharing books; unfortunately I don’t have local friends that read the same stuff as me anyway, but Kindle’s latest OS let’s you highlight quotes to post social network sights already, its probably a matter of time before you can share books. From what I understand. B & N Nook already does allow book shareing between other Nook owners

  31. I think Amazon does allow sharing now (you can send your book to someone else’s Kindle for a while), so we could easily and freely share our books, Greg (which would be easier than in real life since we live in different states).

    I enjoy my Kindle (I’d enjoy an iPad even more), but still my favorite place in the world to be is a big used book store. The kind where they keep adding on rooms and you feel like you’re in a strange castle or a cave. I love those kinds of places! I love all libraries, too. I just love to be around books in any form.

  32. The e-book train has already left the station, even if you prefer ink on paper, the demand for e-books and their share of the publishing market will continue to increase. IMHO.

  33. @Kat: I love that kind of bookstore too! One of my favorites is in St. Louis and it’s in an old Victorian “gingerbread” house. You just wander through the rooms and they’re all full of books, basement to attic. There’s also a cat. Bookstores should have a cat or a dog.

    @Greg: I’ve pondered the “deer heads” thing too! Actually, in the last few years, I’ve been trying to thin my herd, so I have more room for the ones I really love and for the incoming stream of ARCs. I have lots of books I’d never want to be without! That, and there are probably at least 50 books in my house that I own, intend to read, and haven’t yet gotten to.

  34. @Kelly I must come visit that bookstore! And all my favorite bookstores have black cats!!

    One problem we have is that both my husband and I have a lot of books and, even though the house is pretty big, we’ve run out of space to put them. We even have books in boxes because we’ve run out of space. We try to thin them out every once in a while, but we’ve kind of gotten to the place where only the ones we must keep are left, but those are so many! These are mostly nonfiction, reference, and classics. My SFF collection is actually only a small portion of these because I only save my very favorites that I plan to read again. This is a big reason why I like the Kindle. The e-books stay online and I can download as needed. I don’t feel as if I don’t “own” them just because they’re not on my shelf. I do own them and I can even carry them around with me everywhere I go. If I’m at a party and need to, say, quote from the Kama Sutra, I can pull it right out of my purse…. (Maybe that wasn’t the best example…)

  35. I’m in the context camp–it all depends on what I’m reading and when. For travel–you simply can’t beat the ereader. I packed up our car as usual for our annual summer camping trip and had to call my wife out so we could go through what was in our Thule and car cuz the trunk wasn’t packed to the brim as always. Eventually we realized what was missing were my two backpacks of books.

    I also like it for many of the science books I read–in some amt of time, some of those books will be out-of-date, their content woefully incomplete or simply wrong, so I don’t mind not having a physical copy of them. On the other hand, most of my fiction I want to keep the actual book.

    for reviewing, the ebook has the advantage of being able to export my notes so I can paste them right into my document and then edit/tweak.

    For teaching, I still prefer my margin notes and the flipping back and forth physically among pages, and seeing all my notes/page references on the blank pages in between sections. But it’s not a huge difference.

    As for the reading itself, I often find myself putting my hand up to the top corner of my kindle to turn the page–so that’s pretty immersive. I don’t see any difference in the experience (save that it’s easier to read those massive fantasy tomes on the Kindle)

    I look at it like my laptop and desktop: I use one for something I need to do and one for others

  36. @Kat- Really?? I hadn’t heard about that. I’ll have to check into it, but I wonder if you need the latest Kindle, -Kindle 3 I think they call it. Mine is the Kindle 2
    That would be so cool to do though. Maybe we can be book-buddies. ;)

    I’m with you about the used book stores. Especially the ones in old houses, it’s like being in the setting of one our fantasy books. ;) I love it when I find something, someone left in a book.
    Speaking of libraries, my parents live on a small island township in ME, and they have this tiny little public library that’s run by volunteers ( my Mom used to work there some). Of course the winters being what they are there, and the building basically being just a shack, they close it for the winter. So if you check-out a book in the Fall you keep it till the library opens in late spring. In fact they encourage that people check-out as many books as they can before they close for the year, so they’ll be stored in better conditions. :)

  37. There is a certain irony in the fact that the most extreme views (I will only read print vs I will only read ebooks) are held by the most passionate readers. The high cost of the early Sony & Kindle eReaders made them attractive only to voracious readers (and literary agents, who use them as document readers). Now that the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Reader are all cheaper, more folks are buying eReaders and they’re becoming a mainstream device. Plus, the iPad snags the casual reader, who reads maybe two books a year, but can now read ebooks with an iPad app that’s free.

    People are talking about books and reading more than they have for years. Some people are reading more than they have for years. But if you want to stick with print, fine! No one is going to make you buy an eReader. It’s all good!

  38. Alma, I really don’t think anyone said that there should be just one kind of book. It’s just that, for some people, paper books are preferable. I can understand perfectly that e-books are the preferred (or only) format for some readers, but as for me, I have no desire at all to switch over at this point. If that ever changes, I’ll consider buying an expensive piece of electronics to buy DRM-controlled versions of something I can already read anyway, but so far, I’m quite happy with my paper books :)

  39. @Kelly- I know what you mean. I have favorites that I keep. My complete Tarzan series with Boris and Neal Adams covers and my Conan series with Boris and Frazetta covers have followed me through every move I’ve made since I left home centuries ago.

    And I have a lot of books that’s accumulated for TBR. I horrible, in that I’ll want to read a book, buy it, and, since I’ve already “bagged” that one, another one will cross my sights, and I feel like since I already own the others, they can wait while I read this new one. :(

    I have to “thin my herd” regularly to but the only thing with that is; the culled books end-up as exchange at the used-book store, which of course mean more books. Plus -like we’ve talked about-, I keep finding out about books I’ve gotten rid off but are now valued collectibles. :(

  40. And – good point, Karen (you were posting this while I was typing my last message). The topic definitely creates some strong opinions. This is probably the highest amount of comments we’ve had on a post all year…
    It’s also amusing to see how passionate people get in defending their chosen e-book reader vs. another brand or model.

  41. @Kat- Quoting the Kama Sutra?!?!?! Sounds like a really fun party!!! LOL :)

  42. Greg, I have the Bible on my Kindle, too. : )

  43. Greg, this was posted on the Kindle forum on Oct 22, 2010:

    We wanted to let you know about two new features coming soon.

    First, we are making Kindle newspapers and magazines readable on our free Kindle apps, so you can always read Kindle periodicals even if you don’t have your Kindle with you or don’t yet own a Kindle. In the coming weeks, many newspapers and magazines will be available on our Kindle apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, and then we’ll be adding this functionality to Kindle for Android and our other apps down the road. Our vision is Buy Once, Read Everywhere, and we’re excited to make this possible for Kindle periodicals in the same way that it works now for Kindle books. More details when we launch this in the coming weeks.

    Second, later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.

    We will post to the forum later this year when these features are available.

    Also, last month they added the ability to gift e-books, even if you don’t have a Kindle (you can send a book as a gift to someone’s Kindle)

  44. I think the market will eventually reach a leveling point. Both formats will likely coexist for a very long time. My problem with e-readers is not really with the physical elements. I can read a book on anything, I’ve even read several on my ipod touch. My issue is with ownership. If I buy something I want to possess it completely. The issues with DRM and ownership is extremely complicated, and until its hammered out in a reasonable way I will never fully move into e-books.

    @Kat whats the point of the kama sutra on kindle? No pictures…

  45. @Kat- I’m a preacher’s son, so using the ownership of Kindle Bible doesn’t fly with me. LOL :)

    I remember a few months ago, I got an automated Kindle software upgrade, but I didn’t see the book shareing as listed as one of the new features, but I’m gonna look into how to do this right away.

  46. “Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending”

    Garbage….I bought it I should be able to lend it out for as long as I want as many times as I want. This is not even close to sufficient, but I guess it’s a start.

  47. Agreed, Justin.

    I forgot to mention one very positive aspect of the e-reader thing… Several genre authors who own the rights to their own older books are re-publishing them as e-books. E.g C.J. Cherryh (along with Lynn Abbey and Jane Fancher) started Closed Circle (http://www.closed-circle.net/) where you can buy e-copies of their older, out of print books. Linda Nagata just released her 4 older SF novels (which are GREAT) out in Kindle format. I think it’s fantastic that authors have a platform to get these books out to the masses again.

  48. I really don’t want to start a whole new discussion on a related topic, but many (probably most) authors like DRM because it protects their work. When we swap books, buy used copies, etc, multiple people get use out of those books, but the author doesn’t get paid for that (libraries pay more for library copies for this reason). They only get paid for the initial purchase, no matter how many people use the book. I have personally spoken to authors about this problem, but I think many don’t want to voice this opinion out loud because readers, who love used books and libraries, won’t appreciate their admission that they think they deserve to be paid for their work by those who enjoy the work. When we buy a used copy at a bookstore, the bookstore gets the money and the author gets nothing.

    I also think that many readers believe that authors make a lot of money. Most don’t and many can not afford to be full-time writers.

  49. Well I kinda like the feature of a 14 day limit, cause I have lost a physical book that I lend out once, but I’m with you on the amount of times you’re allowed. I mean if the ebook is actually unavailable to you while its loaned-out, its not like one person can buy it and hand-out freebies to friends.

    But if I was an author, I think I would be rather worried about ebooks being too easy to share.

    @Kat- from what I can tell that loaning option will only be available for version 3, the latest version availabe to generation 2 Kindles looks to be 2.5
    Which does bring-up my one gripe with Kindle, I bought the Kindle 2 for around $250 and forked another $50 for the warranty. About 4 months later the Kindle 3 is out for $189…. (Ok, now I’m POed.. I just jumped aboard the eReader-hate-train. LOL :) )
    @Stefen- that’s very cool, I’m gonna check out Closed Circle.

  50. Yeah, I feel guilty sometimes about used books and libraries, and how I’m not getting money to the authors that way. Especially if I really love the book. But I assuage it by (a) reviewing the book, so maybe people with more money will feel compelled to go buy it, and (b) sometimes I do actually buy a book I originally borrowed/bought used/got as an ARC, if I really loved it a lot.

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