When I say ‘reader request’, what I mean to say is that an awesome blogger by the name of Ryan over at Rhino’s Horror said that he’d like to hear my opinion on this e-readers vs. the ‘real thing’ debate. Being a woman of the people (or just one person), I’m obliging.
A couple of years ago now, in the simpler times of early 2011, I held the view that e-readers were stupid, money-making gimmicks for people who don’t really like books or reading. Today, my own personal kindle is currently charging on this here computer as I type.
As I find myself needing to defend this purchase to avid bookworms, I tell them this same thing: I bought my Kindle for a very good reason. The cost of student text books. I went into the student book store to get my first haul of literature and was faced with a whopping $150 for 4 books. I had to put the fifth one back because on it’s own, it cost $75. What! Pricing for school syllabus required texts is ridiculous, especially when you consider that my measly $150 was actually a bit of a bargain for the first haul – some students will pay upwards of $400 for a collection.
That’s what getting the whole semesters worth on hard copy would have cost me by my second trip. And that’s where the Kindle came in. My Kindle cost me $99, the fraction of the price of a book list, and most of the titles I need can be downloaded onto it for a fraction of the retail price. A really small fraction. In fact, I downloaded some classic texts for free. Free. I would have had to pay $30 a piece for those novels in the store. If you add up the cost of every high school novel you’ll need to buy for your teenager for the next 6 years (plus university) it will be huge compared to the prices of a Kindle and e-books. Plus, do you know how much easier it is for students to carry one simple e-reader in their backpack is compared to carrying 1-4 large textbooks?
Kindles have an initially large cost, but they reward you for paying that first charge by providing you with cheap e-reader copies, not having a backlight (so it looks like a book page and you won’t get sore eyes or headaches) storing all your school books (and fun reads) in one place, having a long battery life, and having the options of highlighting, the in-built dictionary, and letting you know how far you are into the book via a percentage. This is all great news for students!
They’re great news for older people too. If your eyesight no longer lets you read the small print of hard copies, it doesn’t mean your reading days are done – e-readers have both adjustable font size (make it as big as you need) and an audio option so that if your eyesight is really bad, you can listen to your novel. Making reading always accessible is awesome no matter how much you love ‘real’ books.
This doesn’t mean I’ve ditched real books for electronic books. I still plan on having that library. Hard copies are the best for your favourite books, coffee table books and children’s books. I firmly believe (with no psychology evidence to my knowledge to back me up on this) that children should have access to hard copy picture books and children’s novels. Perhaps I’m just old, but I think that kids spend enough time looking at screens as it is. Picture books are more interactive and visually appeasing. The act of turning the page and following the words makes reading special. Sitting with a kindle and a four year old doesn’t have the same magic to it.
Real books have the beauty that only non-electronic things can offer. The feel of the pages, the look of the cover, the smell of the paper and the little creases in the spine that say ‘I’m loved’. We also simply find the look of a good bookshelf or library aesthetically pleasing and emotionally comforting. A book doesn’t have to be charged with a computer to be read, and thus saves ongoing electricity usage and costs (though small). Some people find having the paper and ink in front of them easier to learn from.
Both are winners in my mind. I’ve been converter to a Kindle supporter, but I haven’t ditched my bookshelf either. Loving books and reading isn’t ‘lame’ (though jerk males will flout this belief to look cool) but perhaps the electronic book will up the cool factor? Probably not if I say cool factor. Books are fantastic pieces of happiness, or necessity and they will always be around, I think. I found myself enjoying reading either way. While people resist e-readers they resist coming to realise that an e-reader is also a valid book. Yes, a book. After all, it’s not about whether or not you have a hard copy or an electronic copy, it’s just about reading the words.