Why I Love and Hate E-books

msc I have been an avid reader my entire life.  As a young adult, I would sometimes spend several hours a day reading; I’ve often stayed up past my bedtime to finish a good book; and it’s not uncommon for me to take six or seven books on vacation and read them all.   I was very intrigued by the Kindle when it was first released, because the thought of having access to multiple books,  newspapers and magazines  in one device was extremely attractive.  On the other hand, I like reading the physical book, or curling up on the couch with the paper and a cup of coffee.  During the winter of 2009-2010, when back-to-back blizzards meant no newspaper delivery for a week, I was bemoaning the lack of the newspaper; my husband pointed out I could read it online, but I’ve tried it and I just don’t enjoy it.

When I purchased a Droid 2 last summer, I ignored the Kindle app for a long time.  I finally broke down and purchased a book over the winter, when I needed to read the selection for my book club and hadn’t gotten to the library to get it. It wasn’t a bad experience – I could read a few pages while standing in line someplace, waiting to pick up my daughter, or while outside with the dog, and since I’m never without my phone, I was never without my book.  It still wasn’t the same as sitting down with a book, and I keep a book by my bed to read before I go to sleep at night, but it served its purpose.  Over time, I’ve purchased a few more books, which I’ve read in airplanes, cars, and during the other aforementioned activities.  I like the convenience, but I’m still dissatisfied by the overall experience.  For that reason, I was disappointed to read the following in the morning paper (yes, the printed copy of The Washington Post):

Kindle Amazon e-book sales outstrip those for print

Amazon, the largest online retailer, said sales of electronic books have overtaken those of printed versions for the first time, a sign of the growing dominance of its Kindle digital reader.

Amazon now sells 105 electronic books for every 100 printed ones, the Seattle-based company said. The pace of U.S. book sales this year is the fastest the company has seen in more than a decade, Amazon said. Sales of e-books surpassed hardcover titles in July and overtook paperbacks six months later.

Consumers can read Amazon’s e-books on one of its four Kindle readers, priced from $114 to $379, as well as on smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

Amazon may have sold more than 8 million Kindles last year, accounting for about 5 percent of sales, according to Benchmark. Amazon does not disclose Kindle sales figures, other than saying it’s the company’s best-selling product.

I think one of the biggest reasons I dislike e-books, however, is the fact that they can’t easily be shared.  I have several good friends who are also avid readers, and when I’ve read something I’ve really enjoyed, I will often lend it to a friend and tell them they have to read it.  I’ve also borrowed books from friends, and members of my book club will pass books around.  I share a book with someone because I’ve enjoyed it and I want them to have the same pleasure; it’s a way for me to express friendship and share common interests.  I can’t very well hand someone my Droid and say “Here, you have to read this amazing book I just finished, but you have to read it now because I need my phone back”. Sure, I can tell them about the book and recommend they read it, but it’s not the same.  The Nook will let you lend an e-book, but with restrictions: It can only be lent one time, for a 14-day period, and only if the publisher allows it.  It also requires the lendee to own a Nook as well. Amazon allows you to lend a book, with similar restrictions: only for 14 days, only if the publisher allows it, and the lendee must be an Amazon.com member.  Lending a physical book is not limited by technology.

Amazon has announced plans for Kindle  Library Lending later this year, through a partnership with Overdrive, although no specific details have been released.  Maybe I’ll like e-books better if I can borrow them from a library, as opposed to purchasing everything I read; that more closely resembles how I read books now.  I still doubt that anything will replace curling up with a good book, however.

 

  • Moabgoesboom

    It appears from reading the last few lines of this article, Kindle doesn't have a function that allows you to borrow books.  The Nook Color does have this function.  All you need is a current library card and you're good to go.  The Nook Color stands head and shoulders above the Kindle in every aspect whether it's reading e-books or surfing the web.

    Ditch your Kindle and get something that really works!

    • Sari

       Well, I'm only using the free Kindle app on my Droid.  I'm not sure I'd pay for one of the devices at this point, since I'm not that fond of them.  I did point out in the article that Amazon would be offering the ability to borrow books later this year, through access at 11,000 libraries.  That does make it more appealing to me.

      • Faithnhope77

        Barnes and Noble has a free nook app and my library has a free overdrive app which both can help for checking out free books.

    • blmadara

      I absolutely love my Kindle.  It does everything I need and want it to do. The e-ink screen allows me to read for hours without eyestrain and allows me to read in direct sunlight with no glare.  I was reading it on the beach last weekend, just like a book.  It's hard to do that with an LCD screen. 

      The battery lasts for a month so I rarely have to charge it.  I never have to drag my charger with me when I travel. 

      I also love that I can load the Kindle app on my cell phone and if I have a few spare moments during the day I can read and when I go back to my Kindle it syncs to the spot where I stopped reading.

      While Kindle doesn't have library lending yet (it will later this year), I can borrow books from other Kindle users as long as the publisher allows that book to be lent.  The system isn't perfect but it's not one that I've had the need to use. 

      Kindle support is the best bar none, so I know that if anything goes wrong I will be taken care of quickly even if my Kindle is out of warranty.

      In my opinion the Kindle is far better than the Nook Color with the features that I want in an e-reader.  If I wanted color, an LCD screen and the ability to search the web I would get an iPad. I want an e-reader that's light, one that I can read on for hours without eyestrain, even in bright sunlight. I want something that I rarely have to charge, and will hold my entire book collection.  The Kindle is perfect for me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YROXSXKPE26HR2DBRV2GIQ7MMM John Johnston

    Thanks for the insight Sari. I work at the library as system admin and have been going back and forth in getting a Reader. The wife is amazed that I didn't want one the day they came out and it's mainly for the same reasons you noted, I enjoy flipping the pages :<)

    As a side note, you can get E-Books from your library now that work on the Nook and Sony Readers, although Kindle has yet to make the move, I'm sure they will soon.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4XFVWRB2DNIIAP7HRYYQ7FZQ7M Russel

    all valid points, you also forgot the longevity of  eBooks. A torn and tattered book is not very desirable but these electronic versions will last a very long time. As for sharing well there are some 'apps' for that 

  • Kilroyve

    i think that you don´t really hate e-books; YOU HATE all the tricks that publishers do to squeak more pennies from us and the ways a book can be handled. i suppose that if someone someday makes a multiformat free ebook reader, he or she will be sued and hunted down by companies and publishers all over the world. greetings

  • Tarat001

    I love ebooks because they are so much easier to tote around.  I have them on my ipod and a seriously considering buying the Nook. But, I miss the library.  I went this week and felt that familiar calm. No noise, just people enjoying their books. I love strolling around reading the backs of the books. No matter what happens, I will continue to buy books since they are my first love

  • Anonymous

    i love the E-book...

  • Faithnhope77

    My library has an entire ebook library through Overdrive.  It has epub and pdf format ebooks as well as several varieties of audio books.  Check your local library system to see if ebooks are available to you there.