E-Books

What’s your opinion on e-books?

So far, I’m middle-of-the-road on them. Here are some of my e-book pros and cons:

Pros:

  • cost (I can’t afford to buy even a fraction of the books I’d want to read, and e-books are cheaper than regular ones)
  • instant gratification (no waiting for delivery or a visit to the store; no waiting for someone else at the library to finish reading the book you want)
  • environmental impact (no tree-killing, assuming you don’t print out the book)
  • nearly unlimited storage (data takes up a lot less physical space than bookshelves)
  • choice of format (you can adjust things like font size)

Cons:

  • ‘fragile’ (you’d better make regular back-ups if you don’t want to risk losing them)
  • inflexible (unless you print them out or have a PDA on which to read them you can’t easily carry them around to, say, doctor’s office waiting rooms, the gym, or the lunch table)
  • tradition (us book lovers tend to just love the feel or smell of a book in our hands)
  • sharing (e-books are generally licensed for one reader, and I often like to pass my books on to a friend, my husband, or the library when I’m done)

Looking at those lists, you’d think I’d jump for e-books. But the truth is I don’t. Part of it is that I’m a soul-deep book-lover, and part of the joy of a book for me is holding it in my hands and turning the pages. More than that, though, I find it just plain inconvenient. I read everywhere: at the gym, in waiting rooms, at the table when I’m eating alone. I don’t have a PDA and I find 8.5″ x 11″ printouts annoying to manage (not to mention they defeat a couple of the pros of e-books), so I can’t read an e-book at those locations. I also find it more comfortable to sit back with a cat on my lap and a book in my hands than I do to sit with an e-book on my laptop screen. There are also other things I can do while I read a physical book (and vice versa) that don’t work as well with e-books. For example, I often read books during the slow parts of computer games (travel time, etc.).

I keep feeling as though I should be more receptive to e-books, particularly as these days they’re becoming a common starting ground for new authors (especially in newer genres such as erotica). I’m also hardly a fuddy-duddy when it comes to technology—I’m a gadget fiend. Certainly I do read and review the occasional e-book. But given my tendency to start a new book over breakfast in the morning, e-books often sit unread on my hard drive for some time before I get to them.

What do you think? Is there a way to make e-books more inviting or compelling, something as easy to dig into as a paperback? Or will they always lack that certain something?

 

Two new reviews for you today: an advance review of Tate Hallaway’s fun Romancing the Dead and a belated review of the e-book anthology Boundless. (See what I mean about format delaying my reading?)

 

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10 comments on “E-Books
  1. ScottM says:

    I’m in the same boat regarding ebooks. I want to like them, and I love sampling older works via Project Gutenburg before tracking it down for real… but it doesn’t feel the same reading on a screen.

    I think the cat on the blanket you’re snuggled under is hard for ebooks to match. Physical books– especially paperbacks, just feel more relaxing. Though maybe that’s because computer = work; if I read more ebooks I might break that link.

  2. Zoso says:

    I can’t read anything more than a short story on a normal PC screen, but I’ve been reading the odd e-book on PDAs for several years now. Even an 8Mb device could pack a decent selection of books, with gigabyte memory cards you can have thousands of the things in your pocket… if you have thousands of e-books. I have to confess I haven’t bought very many, I’ve mostly read free stuff (Project Gutenberg et. al., Creative Commons stuff like Accelerando, etc.), and maybe an occasional not-entirely-legitimately-acquired book (though I try and get a physical version from the library at some point, which offers a little moral if not legal absolution). Two main advantages; convenience (easier to carry than a stack of books on a long journey), and I can read in bed without disturbing my wife so much.

    Devices like the Amazon Kindle look interesting (if they’d only release it outside the US), in a sort of pre-iPod-MP3-player kinda way (or even a first-gen iPod kinda way). The Readius looks *really* interesting, but maybe there isn’t really a market

  3. I would jump on eBooks in a second if I could ever find a dedicated piece of eBook reading hardware that I actually liked. Amazon’s Kindle came the closest so far. I’m hoping it happens sooner rather than later because having the ability to carry an entire library of books around on one device would be fantastic, and great for keeping them safe/backed up. I thought I would never get rid of CD collection, but I did. If there was a way to somehow import my existing books into an eBook device, that would be truly spectacular!

  4. heather says:

    Thinking about what you guys are saying, and my own objections, I guess the problem for me is that I haven’t found an acceptable ebook reader yet. The Kindle was so far out of my price range that I didn’t even bother reading up on it. If I could get an e-book reader that wasn’t much larger than a paperback (maybe between a paperback and hardback in size), had batteries that could last for, say, twelve hours of reading, was easy to backup and download new books to, and didn’t cost a fortune, then I expect I’d be all over e-books. Particularly with a good, back-lit screen with the ability to adjust font size, bookmark my spot in a book, and maybe even make a few notations here and there.

  5. Cynthia says:

    I’ve never brought or read an e-book. Considered it but never did anything about it.

  6. Trish says:

    I didn’t read any of the other comments, so I hope I’m not just repeating what others have said, but for me the enjoyment of reading comes from being able to escape (physically and mentally). Being tied to a computer is not my idea of escape and reading printed sheets of paper would remind me too much of my grad school secondary reading. Recently I’ve tried audiobooks, but the experience (so far) isn’t as enjoyable as crawling into bed and diving into my book.

  7. Tara says:

    E books just don’t appeal to me at.all. It’s just not the same. I want to hold the book, look back through the pages, lay in bed with it…My husband has suggested he’d buy me a kindle….I begged him not to.

  8. I would be open to giving e-books a shot if I had a good e-reader like the Kindle or Sony E-Reader (neither of which I’d be willing to splurge on right now). Like you, reading at the computer or on 8in 11in paper isn’t too appealing.

  9. heather says:

    Seems like really what we need is an e-book reader that isn’t outrageously expensive and that as closely as possible replicates the feel of sitting back with a treasured book in your hands. I wonder how long it’ll be before we get something like that?

  10. Mervi says:

    I’m waiting for better eReaders. Right now, they have too many drawbacks, such as price, availability, and the DRM. But when someone comes up with a paperback sized, cheap, and DRM-free Reader, I’m jumping in!

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