From Krista’s Perspective:
I used to adamantly say I would never purchase an eReader. I love cracking open a new book, the smell, how the pages feel. I love the power to fold down the corners of pages I want to go back to, to highlight a quote I love, to scratch almost illegible comments in the margins. I love the feeling of seeing how far you have progressed through a new book. When eReaders started hitting the market, I found them to be blasphemous. An insult to books everywhere! OK yes, maybe eBooks will cut down on the amount of paper required to publish books, but a book on a screen? Never! And don’t get me started on the promotions for all types of eReaders. The commercials drove me crazy. “Now you can read anywhere: outside, on the subway, laying at the beach”; this confused me greatly because is there any particular reason why people were unable to stick a paperback in their purses, backpacks, or beach bags?
Yes, when eReaders first started becoming the new trend I refused to be part of the movement. I firmly believed I would be loyal to the inked pages I fell in love with when I taught myself to read at 3 years old (true story!). But it seems I was too quick to judge. In my defense, I still have not purchased an eReader but I am in possession of a KOBO which my grandmother bought me so we would have matching ones. I still firmly believe in a new crisp paperback and still covet beautiful new hardcover books, but I have somewhat been drawn over to the dark side; the side of the convenient eReader.
For me, the convenience does not come from this magical idea which commercials promote of being able to take your book anywhere. I have always had some kind of a book in my purse or backpack no matter where I go. The convenience certainly doesn’t come from their exaggerated enjoyment of a glare-free screen. Know what else is glare-free? A book. A paperback novel has no glare to be concerned with. But the KOBO does provide a sense of convenience which even a protester like myself can’t ignore.
Similar to the age of downloading one specific song before choosing to buy the entire CD, we now have the option to read an eBook before deciding to buy the book in paper version. There are so many books on the market that it is impossible to budget your finances adequately enough to accommodate your desire for new books. For someone who reads anything they can get their hands on, an eReader has provided the luxury of reading countless books at a much lower price than purchasing them all at your local book store. This allows the freedom of reading many different types of books which may not necessarily be your first choice but the lower price of eBooks allows you the opportunity to consider other genres. If you are someone who absorbs multiple novels a week and as quickly as possible then yes, it is probably worth your time. But for someone who reads one book every six months I would strongly suggest not bothering investing in this fad of eReaders because it will not be worth your time. And absolutely do not buy an eReader simply because it is the new fad, the thing to do, the newest technology. Reading should remain an absorption of an author’s handiwork, an immersion into a fictional world unlike our own. Reading, and an author’s art, deserves better than that.
The biggest factor in convincing me it was OK to experiment with the eReader world was the fact that the KOBO came with 101 free classic novels already installed. I have always wanted to complete those famous lists of 100 Classics everyone should read before they die. I started at ‘A’ and have read some classics such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Sherlock Holmes, and there are countless to go such as Doyle’s The Lost World and Machiavelli’s The Prince. Although I still firmly believe in the beauty of a brand new book, I can see the joy, the convenience, the luxury of being able to upload an electronic copy and giving the book a try.
My recommendation is this: find the best of both worlds. I personally will never become a complete convert into the eReader world but I fully embrace the opportunity to read electronic copies of books I would never otherwise read.
From Lauren’s Perspective:
I too am a lover of books. I always have been. I don’t just want them, I need them. It is an obsession for me on the same level as others need cigarettes or beer. It has always been impossible for me to walk by a bookstore without entering, and upon entering, to leave without buying.
Differently from Krista and from many book lovers, however, my love of books has never been because of the smell, or because of the ability to fold the pages, feel the paper, and write all over the books. In fact, you will never catch me writing in my books. For me it has always been the words on the pages and the look of those beautiful words all over my book shelves. I just want to read it all, take it all in. Having said that, the introduction of the e-reader shouldn’t have bothered me. Words are words, no matter what form, and the very small side of me that wants to be green even understands the benefits to publishing less books on paper. But I, just like Krista, was against the dreaded e-reader from the start. I wasn’t willing to give up my pages for a computer screen and I had no problem carrying tomes with me in my purses no matter how heavy they may have been. Perhaps I just didn’t like change, perhaps I didn’t want to have to put a halt to my beautifully growing book collection, but no matter the reason, I was not impressed. I would never buy one.
Then Christmas came, and as a book lover, obviously family and friends thought this to be the perfect gift, so like Krista, I ended up with a Kobo despite never completely condoning their existence. At first, I couldn’t understand paying upwards of twenty dollars for a digital copy of a book without having something to show for it at the end. But quickly, very quickly, I was hooked. With libraries lending tons of books and being able to download any book at any time day or night, I suddenly had the world at my fingers. If I finished a book at two in the morning, I could immediately start the next. If I went on vacation, I didn’t have to plan out an amount of space in my suitcase for the multiple books I always had to bring with me. The e-reader was just so compact, so convenient. So I too, became an e-book convert.
The thing with change is it always takes a while to get used too. But the other truth that comes with change is that after time human beings can become used to almost anything. Given enough time, what was once absurd becomes part of a daily routine. And in just a few short months, I can’t imagine ever having gotten along without my e-reader. I do have moments of utter annoyance that comes with any form of technology. Moments when it doesn’t work quite right and I just want to throw it out the window. I mean, a book can’t break, with a real book you never have to concern yourself with the battery running out mid-chapter or with the possibility of not being able to finish an amazing book because of a technical error. But despite the few setbacks, I have to admit, I love it.
Having said all of this, having given my opinion in favour of the e-reader, I will never give up my love of laying my hands on beautiful hardcovers with covers that could be works of art. Now, I just have it a bit easier. I can read books that are my guilty pleasures and pay less for them. But then the books that amazed me, that changed my life, that truly got under my skin; well those will always deserve a place on my shelf no matter how I originally read their content.
A while ago, I went to see author James Frey speak after the release of his latest novel and he perfectly matched the sentiments I have for e-readers. I can’t quote him exactly, but essentially his belief was that we do live in an age of technology and ignoring it will only make us ignorant of it. Instead, he decided to take advantage of the e-reader craze as other industries have gotten used to the changes in their forms of media. He simply says he will make his novels, his real, tangible novels into works of art. He will give the reader something worth buying. Because in this day and age where everything is available at the touch of a finger, you have to make those material things worth the change.