As a writer, I’ve watched the growth of eBooks and eReaders with great interest. I’ve even wondered if the publishing market will change so much by the time I get a book ready to publish that I’ll never actually hold my book in my hands. However, a few things recently have made me think print books are going to stay around.
The first is my own experience with eReaders. Our library lends out eReaders, so my husband and I both put ourselves on the waitlist—160th or so in line. The first eReader arrived a few months ago, when I was in the middle of classes. I read a quarter of The Help before deciding I didn’t have time to read right then. The second eReader arrived just a few weeks ago, when I was finished classes, so I was able to read Emma Donoghue’s novel Room in a couple of days. While I loved the book, I hated the eReader.
My biggest complaint is the delays with the eReader. It took two minutes to turn on (I timed it). It took a few seconds to flip the page each time. Sometimes the page didn’t flip and I’d have to push the button again. Sometimes I thought the page wasn’t flipping so I pushed the button again, and then it flipped two pages.
One evening, my husband was finishing something on the computer before we watched a movie together. Usually, I would have grabbed my book to read while waiting—but when I thought about waiting for the thing to turn on, I just sat twiddling my thumbs until he was done, because by the time I got the eReader turned on, I would have been turning it off again.
On April 18th, best-selling Christian suspense author Ted Dekker put a poll on his Facebook page. He asked, “I’m planning new tales that I want to tell you in the near future. Tell me, how do you prefer to read my stories? The power is in your hands.” The votes? eReader (like a Kindle, Nook, or iPad) took 610; print book took 1783. About a quarter of the poll respondents wanted eBooks; the other three-quarters still prefer print books.
On the book review websites I frequent, I see the same trends. BookLook offers both eBooks and print books to its reviewers, but for the last two books that I’ve reviewed, I waited up to request the book as soon as it was released to ensure I received a print copy. There are always lots of eBooks available on the site, and only a few print books, even though Booksneeze says they release the same number of eBooks and print books. I saw the same preference for print books over eBooks on another book review site, and book reviewers read a LOT of books.
I have friends who rave about their eReaders and honestly, I like the idea. My husband and I have always had more books than bookshelves (much to the chagrin of our friends and family who have helped us move those books). When we go away on trips, we take a large book bag with us. An eReader would make that so much simpler. But it just seems too technical. I can read a book faster than I can read an eBook—and I don’t have to figure out how to turn on a book.
My conclusion? I think eBooks and print books will happily co-exist, just as paperbacks and hardcovers do. There will be people who prefer one or the other, and people who read both, but I don’t think the print book is going to disappear.
What do you think? Do you prefer eBooks or print books? Have you tried eReaders?
To be honest, your post is very encouraging! I have the Kindle app on my phone and I do have a few books on there, but nothing beats the feel, smell, and interaction with a physical book. I must say I was not happy when Borders stores closed and so many public libraries started charging for use…I was afraid that meant that eBooks were going to take over! I can live with it if books and eBooks can co-exist though. 😉
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I love both equally, as long as I am able to read my books one way or another I am happy.
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Violet – yes, I also had issues with formatting in eBooks (on both the eReader and on my computer). The ability to adjust the text for size or ease of reading does affect the way it looks upon the page and sometimes leaves things sitting by themselves.
Tracy – I had a battery issue too. I didn’t even realize mine was running low (it had a tiny light to indicate battery level) until it turned off. Then I thought I had charged it completely (it was plugged in overnight), but when I got to the library to return it, it was completely dead. And I didn’t like having to charge it by USB cord – that meant I had to have my computer on to have the eReader on. ???
I’ve downloaded several eBooks onto my computer, just because they are free – and I keep seeing more, so those are great deals. 🙂 I also like the size, as I carry a very small purse so most books don’t fit into it. So maybe the issues balance each other… 🙂 There are pros and cons to both, which is why I think both will stick around.
I love my hardcover books..everything about books…the thought, the smell, the feel….
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I’ve wondered about the publishing world as well… now I just need to get back to writing. Oh there was that one book I tried to have published… no bites can be so discouraging. 😉
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I love my ereader and have not had the problems you mentioned. The upside for me is the fact that I can carry so many books with me at all times – when I travel, when I’m waiting at the doctor, when I’m in the car … It’s great. The other big thing for me is the way I can make the font as large as I wish. I find my reader very easy on the eyes because of this and i don’t feel the eye strain as much as with a regular book.
There are some down sides, though. I’ve had my battery run out when it wasn’t convenient for me to recharge it. It shuts down and there is no reading until its fed again! Also, sometimes I like to flip back to something I read earlier for clarification and this isn’t always easy to do if you don’t know exactly what page you’re looking for. The same goes for flipping forward (I know, I know – you’re not supposed to do this, but I like to on occasion…I often read the last page – gasp!)Maybe this is a plus since its breaking me of that habit…
Interesting article, Bonnie. I love my Kindle. I don’t have the same delay problems you mentioned. That would annoy me too!
My beef with e-books is what Janet mentions, i.e. not being able to flip back and forth. Though I can make notes and underline passages, I still can’t always find places I want (although I guess if I remembered a word used in that passage, I could search the text). When I review books I sometimes feel like my hands are tied because I can’t flip back and forth the way I’d like.
Other problems are books with no linkable indexes, odd things happening with the text as in varying sizes, odd formatting in poetry books and books that have text boxes on the page in their paper editions. I suspect some of these problems are just technical formatting issues.
But I do love the many free books for Kindle and the speed with which I can receive books. I only wish I could pass some of these e-books on to others after I’m done with them!
Jo – the price of eReaders is also one reason I haven’t gotten one (or tried the library’s instead). I’ve seen some very cheap (and free) eBooks, but some are the same as print books, as you say. I don’t read on the computer so I don’t like eBooks that way.
Dana – the second eReader from the library was a Kobo, but I suspect it was an older edition and well-handled by other library patrons. Still, if that’s what happens to an eReader after it’s been used a lot… how long would one last if I bought it?
Janet – I do have books that I’m trying to get rid of, because they take up a lot of space. At the same time, I can give them away or lend them out and it seems hard to do that with an eBook. 🙂
Bonnie, I agree that eBooks and print books will coexist nicely. If I’m reading anything I want to mark in, I want print. That way I can find things again by flipping through. Maybe someday I’ll get a touch eReader and change my mind, but it’s still hard to flip through an ebook.
For fiction, I’d rather have the e-version most of the time. Not if there are maps (eg fantasy novels). My philosophy with fiction is I want the story, not fancy and expensive packaging. I won’t buy an ebook that’s the same price as print, because it’s harder to lend ebooks and I do like to pass them on. But I have this huge stack of novels that I’ll never read again and they’re taking over my house.
I agree with Dana that you didn’t have a good loaner. Mine (Aluratek Libre) occasionally takes a long time or causes other trouble, but usually it’s quick. The only time I had trouble was trying to navigate an electronic Bible. That did take forever to turn a page, because of the hugeness of the file.
My thought is that you weren’t using a good e reader. Mine is the Kobo touch and I’ve never had a problem loading (takes a couple of seconds, if that…) and the pages turn in a flash. No lagging ever. I actually was given The Help in paperback and had trouble reading a print book again. It just feels so awkward now as opposed to the light Kobo. I’m an e reader convert forever!!
Thanks for your insights, Bonnie! I’ve wavered between hating the very idea of eReaders and thinking maybe they’ll be ok after all. I played around with my moms a little (a Kobo), and I think I could probably make use of one if I had one. But probably not enough to justify the price.
Honestly, I have a personal cheapskate wall that prevents me from paying more than $5 for something I can’t even hold in my hand. The last ebook I looked at the price of (from a bestselling author, I think) was $12.99!
Yes, I do believe the writing is worth that. But I’m not going to pay it unless I get something tangible I can hold and dog-ear and reread in the bath.
So I would only use an eReader for books that I can’t get in print. Which I can really just read on the computer anyway. (like Patty’s new romance!)
~Jo (aka Talks-a-lot)