Jekyll and Hyde: E-readers v. Print

28 May


When I heard that people were actually buying into the e-book craze, I scoffed.  I presented the obvious argument – “I want to feel the cover, hear the ruffle of pages, smell the papery essence, track my progress with my trusty bookmark…(edited for length – ffw 20 minutes)…and I will NEVER get an e-reader, the end!”

You see I’ve loved reading – and thus books – ever since I was swept into novels like The Hobbit, Anne of Green Gables and ok, the occasional Baby Sitters’ Club or Goosebumps.  So I have a stubborn preference for the tangible, the non-battery powered, and the traditional and trusty format based on years of experience.  You don’t come out of college with a degree in English Lit and Lang not caring about literature (encased in real paper).  For years all I ever had to decide was hardback or paper back? And maybe every once in awhile (let’s admit it) which cover is cooler?

Now in a world filled with iPads, Kindles, and  Nooks , I’m  suddenly faced with a new stark choice.  Hard or e-copy?  Easy to dismiss at first (hard copy!), but now the dichotomy does not seem as black and white.  Gray is bleeding in.   Perhaps both mediums have place a on my bookshelf?  I’m not saying I’m a convert to e-books, but I am saying I’m no longer staging an e-book burning bonfire.   Because whether I like it or not, the wave is growing.  I read Amazon sells 6 Kindles for every 10 physical books. Wow. Well, like the great Sam Cooke so famously said, “A change is gonna come.” It has-a come.

I must admit that I generally lag behind technological advances.  When I was growing up my family held on to our tapes to the bitter end – until the VHS section shrank to a $5 bin.  Now all of our cassettes are in a Good Will somewhere and our VCR sits dusty, forgotten, and vacant in my closet, gathering dust but not gathering friends. (Evoking any tears out there?) Audio cassette tapes did not fare any better.  I haven’t bought one since my first CD purchase – Back Street Boys (self titled) – in 1996.  I never want books to be fated to the same defunct destiny, NEVER!

I’m generally suspicious of ‘new’.  To me it sounds like code for ‘overpriced for those suckers who buy too soon and pay more for a product that will cost less and be more advanced in 6 months anyway.’  Cynical?  Who, me?  Some of that, yes, but I also have a healthy dose of nerves.  A perfectionist (I’ve heard) wants to have the best – but that is not possible for long in the world of technology.  And the constant quest for the most memory in the slimmest package with speediest lightning quick speed is exhausting.

So what does all this have to do with e-readers, split personalities, and hardbound books?  Nothing, I just wrote a catchy title to grab you…did it work?  No really, I must admit the convenience and comfort of e-book readers just smacked me across the head one day and I don’t know if I can fully shake my desire for one.   Just because I’m wary of new doesn’t mean I’m not peer pressured by great advertising to think new is cool.  I just pray this new format doesn’t erode the one medium that has lasted for years upon years.

To conclude my ponderations here’s my brainstorm list of e-books’ pros (2.1 and growing!).   I won’t bore you with a long list of cons – consider them implied!

  • Reading in bed would be easier.
    • I wouldn’t have to turn on / off the lights – I could just drift to sleep without straining to turn the light off, thus waking myself up again…tempting!
    • I could lie in more positions.  For all you readers out there you know it is hard to read on your side – you can see, say…the left side of the book but right side is totally out of focus.  I then have to read with one eye, read with an awkward wrist position or change positions all together.  Rough world!  The e-book has only one side – thus no need to constantly reposition to see everything.
    • For reading in bed ease:  (e-books 1, books 500).

    • Portable for those of us who like Russian authors/heavy books.
      • A deal breaker test I implement on new purses is the ‘Does an average sized paperback fit?’ test.   However I can’t go lugging my Tolstoy around in any purse that I’m willing to buy.  E-readers do seem to be the answer to this conundrum.
      • An e-reader might have saved me some severe shoulder trauma from my nasty habit of bringing way too many books and notebooks to school.
      • For portability possibilities (e-books 2, books 500).

      • E-books are cheaper
        • According to Barnes and Noble, there are millions of titles available for their new fangled Nook – guess how much the classics cost?  $1.99.  An impressive price for such a wide variety of books!
        • But I feel this point is somewhat moot, because for almost every reader out there you have to plunk down $250 – I would have to buy a lot of books to get my full value
        • For cost savings potential (e-books 2.1, books 500).

So there you have it – a book lover’s take on the melding of technology and books.  Take it or Leave it!  Stay classy, Houston.

2 Responses to “Jekyll and Hyde: E-readers v. Print”

  1. unrelenting amee April 10, 2011 at 5:24 am #

    Don’t give in!! I’m anti-technology too. When the cassette player that came with my car broke, I SERIOUSLY planned on installing another one. Until my bff said, “Get with the program, Amee.” I opted for the CD-player, only because to get a dual one with cassettes was too $$$.

    I still don’t have an iPhone. I have the same JVC boombox I got for Christmas in 1993. I’m right with ya on hating e-technology! Your post is great, and makes a fair case for embracing the new wave of e-reading. But Twilight is also undeniable, does that mean we should embrace that, too? NO!! Apologies if you’re a fan, but you seem too smart of a reader. 😉

    This was some months ago… have you been able to hold out?? Keep it old-school. You’re not alone!

    • alexispeters April 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

      I haven’t given in! I still read good ol’ fashioned books and enjoy a phone that just does what it is supposed to do (make calls and text) and nothing more. I think I keep it moderately old-school.
      Confession time – I did read Twilight, but I think all my other reading pursuits cancel it out. I hope. Thanks for the great comment!

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