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:
- 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)
- ‘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?