A Whole New Generation of Reading

Amazon’s Kindle marks a transition from books to e-readers. Photo credit Katie Owens.

Katie Owens

Staff Writer

As I sit down in the Marywood library to begin writing this article, it occurs to me that if and when eBooks do replace actual books, libraries will be a thing of the past. At least in their original form, as a place to find and borrow books from. With the never ending innovations in technology, the original method of doing almost anything has been replaced. One thing that has stood the test have time thus far has been books. Yes, the way in which they are mass produced has changed, but never the bottom line — pieces of paper with print and pictures held together with binding.

In the last few years, however, eBooks and eReaders have taken the literary community by storm. These are devices that can download the text of a book and let you read it right there on the device. Arguably, the most popular, and first mainstream, eReader is the Amazon Kindle. This device was first released in November 2007 and has had four other versions come out since then.

To date, there are over 700,000 books available to buy for all of the platforms. The cost of the device itself starts out at $139 and almost every book costs $9.99 to buy. Once you buy it, it is yours forever. You can keep up to 1500 stored on the Kindle itself and if you don’t want them all on there, they stay stored on your Amazon account. As college students, we tend to associate spending money on books with our textbooks. Plenty of these, too, are offered in eBook form. That alone is something to look into because you can make notes and highlight in an eReader and not have to carry around a fifty pound book bag.

There are, of course, similar products on the market. The Barnes & Noble Nook was released last November which features most of the same features but is touch screen enabled. With the release of the iPad, Apple is now running a campaign to make the eReader App more popular than all other competitors.

But the real competitors in this case are the book stores and publishers. If you ask most serious authors, they would say that they just want people to read their books, no matter the platform. But that doesn’t change the fact the publishing is an industry and if you want to make money, you have to make sales.

An average hardcover book costs between $18-$24. No matter what it is sold for, the publisher gets back their percent of the list price. While it is Amazon that loses the money, so are book stores because people aren’t coming to them. But in this economy, who isn’t looking for a way to save money. While the eReaders themselves aren’t exactly cheap, by the time you buy fifteen books on there, you have already got your money back in the difference. That isn’t even including all of the free material offered.

People who read a lot seem to be the ones that do not like the idea of eReaders. To many people, nothing is comparable to the feeling of physically turning the pages. A lot of people say that the smell of a new book (and an old one) are things that will never be able to be reproduced. You can tell their favorite book by how destroyed the binding is, and they like that. Older people, too, tend to stray away from technology like this. They argue aswell, how fragile electronics can be. If I drop a book off of my desk, the worst that might happen is the pages get a little bent. The consequences are much worse if you drop an eReader or other electronic.

Before having to do the research for this article, I was pretty anti-eBook. But I have to admit, after seeing the facts and getting to use a Kindle for a couple of days, I admit that I considering going for it. Nothing is ever going to stop me from buying physical books, there a certain books that one just needs to own. But I feel as though having an eReader will just promote me from reading so many more great books.

Eventually, eBooks will become the only form of book. Just as the computer replaced the typewriter and CDs replaced records. The library might end up having a lot less shelves but I can see them lending out eBooks and still being a place to study even as things change. All the physical books you own will become something more special than they already are.

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