Thursday, January 13, 2011

e-Reader Influencers?

I have never used an e-reader before and I’m not sure I ever will. I like holding a book in my hands when I read. But at the gym the other morning I saw a woman reading with an e-reader while she used the elliptical machine. I thought, now that’s a great use for an e-reader. You don’t have to mess with the pages flipping over on their own or keeping them flat. If you want, you can magnify the size of the letters to make it easier to read. I could see myself using an e-reader in that situation.

Another situation where I could see myself using an e-reader was if I was commuting by train or bus to work. When I was in D.C. last summer I saw a number of commuters on the metro reading with their e-readers. Reading from the bulky pages of a book can be a little difficult when standing on a crowded train. An e-reader minimizes that difficulty.

Still, I’m not certain that I’ll ever embrace e-readers, but I can see their value. In the coming days, I plan to post a survey on my blog that asks people about their tendencies toward e-readers vs paper books, and what types of things might or might not influence them toward or away from e-readers.  To do that, I need a list a potential motivations or questions to ask about. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments below


  1. The books for an eReader are less expensive than print books. Many are even free (public domain). If you purchase books frequently, your eReader purchase will eventually pay for itself in savings and you'll go on to continue spending less on any eBook that you buy vs. the cost of a printed book. Of course, you have to be someone who purchases lots of books. If you do not read much, it won't be worth it cost-wise.

    With some eReaders, you can even borrow books from the library to read on your eReader. Mine does that, though I haven't tried it yet.

    The problem I had with old eReaders was that, with an LCD screen, you couldn't read your book outside easily. Plus, the battery didn't last very long between charges. So, paper books were better. But eInk solved both problems.

    An eReader is smaller than a full-sized hard-cover book and can fit in my purse. It can also hold hundreds of books at a time. It's certainly easier to carry around than a bookshelf full of books.

    I can buy books for my eReader and get them instantly downloaded to my device, so long as I'm somewhere with wi-fi or have access to a computer. I don't have to leave the house or wait for shipment.

    It's more environmentally friendly because each eBook you purchase instead of a printed book means that much less paper used. Now, it does take power to run, so I suppose that does offset things somewhat. But it doesn't take much power.

    As you observed, you can change the font size and you don't have to hold open the pages. You can also load music and audio books on it.

    Also, my nook has a built-in Soduku game. I like Soduku.

  2. Things that deter me from buying an e-reader: 1)I dislike learning to use any new gadget (although I do eventually). 2)Since most of my books come from the library, used book stores, or on loan from friends, an e-reader seems like an expensive item. 3)The probability of malfunction, breakage, or loss makes an e-reader expensive. 4) My eyes' tolerance for looking at an electronic screen is much lower than looking at a printed page.
    All that being said, I don't rule out getting one someday, esp. if I don't have easy access to a variety of books and/or need to adjust the font size.

  3. I agree with you that I just feels right to hold a book in your hands. While it saves money, paper, ..., it just doesn't feel right for me to hold a piece of plastic while I read. I don't know, anyone disagree?

  4. We just talked about this over at the Reading Tub via a series of pros and cons.

    I love the feel of a book, particularly when it comes to sharing a book with a child. As a reviewer who likes to bookmark and take notes, I find the eReader not only has ways to make it convenient, but more importantly, legible!

  5. E-readers kind of bother me. I'm not an expert on e-readers, so I could be wrong, but as I understand, when you "buy" a book for an e-reader, you don't actually buy it. You buy a license to view the text of the book. A license that is controlled by Amazon (or whatever company made your e-reader.) So, for example, in 2009, Amazon deleted copies of "1984" from users' Kindles.
    Also, what if your e-reader breaks? Then you don't have access to any of the books you "bought" until you buy a new Kindle.
    Or what if Amazon has a glitch in the system that accidentally deletes everyone's books?
    Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I don't feel secure trusting my entire library to an Internet network.

    (I've really only read about the Kindle though. Other e-readers, like the Nook, might be set up differently and not have these issues.)
    Source for this comment:

  6. The eye-strain problem with staring at a lighted screen is solved by the eInk technology. Completely solved. It really is like looking at a sheet of paper.

    If you buy an eBook, you own a copy of the eBook. You can put it on your computer or whatever. They store a copy on their server for you for backup and you can download it anytime. I guess they could suck it off from your eReader, but the only reason to do that would be if there was some legal reason they shouldn't have let you have it in the first place, like what happened with 1984. Otherwise, you bought it, it's yours.

    You can read it on your computer screen or on your eReader or on any mobile device with the kindle or nook or whatever app on it. So, if your eReader breaks or is lost, you can still read it on another device (though you lose the eInk screen until you get a new eReader).

    It's unlikely that Amazon is ever going to lose everyone's library. Even if they did, the books stored on your kindle are stored on your actual kindle. Not in some cloud somewhere. You'd only lose what was on your Amazon library that you hadn't downloaded to your kindle yet. And such a big company would probably repair the problem and have everything back up in a matter of hours. Can you think of the fall-out if they didn't? Let's remember, a paper book isn't risk-free either. You could always lose your printed library to a housefire or flood.

    We go through so many books at our house, shelf-space is a real problem. Being able to get many of our books on our nooks instead actually does help us quite a bit.

    The average cell phone is as expensive as a nook. But people carry those around without being particularly worried about it being stolen or broken.

  7. HI Ken, I just got a Kindle for Christmas and absolutely love it. I downloaded a bunch of books for a lot cheaper, and was able to easily carry it around and read in places a book is too bulky. BUT...I will never replace by regular books - love them too much, so I will use both. Also, children's books are just not the same on an ereader - I will never replace a beautifully illustrated children's book for an ebook.