Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The future of paper books?

Today's Shelf Awareness newsletter was chock full of articles on e-readers. Barnes and Noble announced their version, the Nook, will debut at the same price as the Kindle. There was yet another article discussing Kindle's international reader:
As Amazon launched the international edition of its Kindle, Retail Week considered whether e-readers "will bring about bookshops' demise, or if the world of print will prove resilient."

I sincerely hope the world of print never actually goes the way of cassette tapes and 8-tracks. BUT, you never know. And all this new e-reader technology makes me a bit nervous. While I'm normally a gadget girl and love the latest television, iPod, and photographic equipment, I love the feel of a book in my hands. I've considered the idea of purchasing an e-reader just because I'm drawn to the technology of it. I'm not a snob about the idea of an e-reader. I see it's value, especially as a travel companion, or for magazines and newspapers. But I don't really travel that often (at least by anything other than car--where books are still quite appropriate), and I don't really read magazines and newspapers anyway. So I haven't taken the plunge.

I just really hope all this e-technology and book price-slashing doesn't eventually push the publishing world to abandon print all together. I know everyone is struggling, newspapers have shrunk. And I have to admit I read most of my news online, just because its more convenient and I feel like I'm saving a tree by not having all that paper around the house (though I recycle it anyway). While I also know that trees are cut down to create the paper books are printed on, I'm somehow more okay with that. ;-)

I also think about my kids. I absolutely LOVED disappearing into the world of a book as a child. I was known to spend a whole weekend curled up somewhere in the house reading away. I somehow can't picture doing that with an e-reader. And my kids are already bombarded by so much technology and stimuli in their environment from television, to computer games, to video games, to using Smart Boards at school (even in preschool!). I think it's fantastic for them to take a time out from all that visual stimuli and sit down with a book, pouring over the pictures and words.

Just felt the need to ramble on this topic this morning. :-)


GBK Gwyneth said...

While we still prefer to borrow books from friends or the library, our Kindle has come in quite handy with all the traveling we do and all the reading my 11 y.o. does.

Overall, I don't feel it is too different from a holding a book, except for the flipping through pages to remember that detail, etc. It is not visually stimulating at all. I don't think it can be put in the category of tv and video games. It doesn't light up, nothing moves; it is still printed words, essentially.

A few other benefits: When I'm tired, I can increase the font size easily. It doesn't weigh as much as a big book -- nice for when I'm tired and in bed reading :)

Holly said...

Gwyneth, thank you for your thoughts! And while I guess I can see the point that it's not really visually stimulating to use an e-reader, I still like the idea of a complete lack of technology when it comes to reading.

I think it's an atmosphere thing for me. The physical nature of actually turn a page. Just getting away from anything that plugs in or scrolls, or even uses a battery.

And I completely agree that it seems it would be easier to flip back in a book rather than on an e-reader. But as I have never even tried an e-reader, I guess I wouldn't really know.

You make all valid points. And not to say I will never purchase an e-reader, I guess I just hope that I (and my kids) always have the choice to have an actual book in my hands versus an e-version.

allisonmariecat said...

I've tried my mom's Kindle, and it's nice. It is similar to just reading a book, as far as these things go. I've thought of getting one (though I'm more likely to wait and see if Apple is really coming out with an e-reader) and using it for much of my reading, but I would always want to buy printed copies of my favorite books, the ones I want to read over and over. The tactile experience of reading a book is just too different, and it's one I enjoy!

Mary said...

I have a friend who has macular degeneration. Consequently, she can no longer read books except by cd or on tape. She loves to "read" and often has several books going at once. She's so happy she is still able to enjoy books but she says there's nothing like spending an afternoon curled up w/a good book in your hands. She so misses that experience. Let's hope books continue to be there for those of us who LOVE to hold them in our hands and turn the pages.

Amber said...

I'm torn on this as well. I love holding new books and going to the library, and my kids love going there as well. I could spend hours walking through the stacks of books with nothing specific that I'm lookiing for, just picking up things that catch my eye. So I personally hope that libraries and books never go away. That being said...we travel a lot and while I can't read in the car...it would be nice to not have to pack 2,3, or 4 books in my suitcase everytime we go somewhere. :) I'm sure I won't be buying one anytime soon, but it has caught my eye. Plus it is just one more thing my 11 month old could potentially break. :)

ikkinlala said...

I can see the value of e-readers for some people (especially for those who want to be able to adjust the size of the text), but I'm not supporting e-publishing myself. I would rather have a physical book that doesn't break if I drop it and that I'm allowed to share with friends.