Thursday, 2 September 2010

Paper vs e-book

I'm not the most techno-savvy person around, but I'm no Luddite either. I'd have to say, though, that I really can't see why I'd ever buy a Kindle or similar device.

It's not just because I like books as physical objects. In fact, it's not got a lot to do with that at all. It's more that I can't really see what advantage an electronic reader offers over a book.

OK, so it means you can take a small library away with you on holiday without filling suitcases full of books. Why you'd want to is another matter, and this particular plus point is vastly outweighed, as far as I can see, by a bunch of negatives.

These include the expense (OK, this will probably be reduced at least a little as time goes on), and the fact that it's just one more piece of kit to lose, break or have stolen, any of which will mean considerable further expense for you to replace it. It's also another bit of kit you have to remember to pack a charger for. A book, on the other hand, is cheap and easy to replace, should you happen to drop it in the bath, leave it on the beach, or stand on it while making a bleary-eyed pre-dawn departure to the airport.

And that's how this situation, as far as I can see, differs from what happened with music when MP3 players first appeared. The predecessors to MP3s, of course, were all also bits of electrical kit that cost a fair bit, were prone to getting damaged, and were attractive to thieves. The book, on the other hand, is a simple but pretty solid bit of technology in itself, with few obvious disadvantages. Convince me that it's obsolete, and I might change my mind, but for now I can't see any good reason to change.

NB This isn't to say, of course, that I don't see the point of e-books. For some people, in some situations, they probably do offer far more real advantages, so I suppose ideally I'd want to see books offered in multiple formats.


Andrew Shields said...

It is to be hoped that POD will run parallel to e-books in the future, so that those who want paper can still get it!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I much prefer books too. I'm no Luddite and I'm well connected and enthusiastic via social networking but gadgets just aren't for me and nothing can replace a good book

Alan Baker said...

I've just ordered a Kindle because I travel a lot for my job, and it's perfect for travelling. The big plus for me is that all public domain books are free in e-format. So although the device costs 100 quid, I can put a whole library of books on it for nothing. I still love books, and anyway, most of the poetry books I buy aren't available in Kindle format.