Remember when people listened to audio tracks on cassettes and watched videos on VHS tapes? Those mediums of storage have now become obsolete, with CDs and DVDs ruling the roost. One extremely ancient medium that has held out against the digital invasion, is the novel or printed book. But its days look numbered too, with the rising popularity of the eBook. Learn why the eBook can replace the paperback, as the new form of literature.
The best and sometimes worst aspect of man’s nature, is his urge to better his condition through replacements and upgrades. Fed up of walking everywhere, cavemen domesticated horses to ride, which in turn were replaced by automobiles, now man’s primary form of transport. While man has always expanded his horizons to new and greater heights, in the field of digital technology, especially with computers, his leaps and bounds are a wondrous feat.
One-room computers became desktops, which became laptops, which now are tablets and smartphones. The next platform for such physical compression, seems to be the written word in the form of novels and books. The eBook is the digital version of a traditional paperback, in a digital page-by-page format, readable on a compatible device. This electronic reading ability has taken the tech market by storm, with Amazon and Barnes and Noble, two major publishers fighting it out with their respective eBook readers. So ultimately will eBooks replace paper books and relegate them to the literal bookshelves of history? In this article, learn why the newcomer, the eBook, has the muscle power and the specs to replace printed literature.
The Advantage of the eBook
Obviously the device for reading an eBook costs more than a paperback novel. The Nook and the Kindle both cost around $140, with the Nook Color costing $250. So an e-reader will cost at least $100, while your average paperback costs between $20-$50. But get this, eBooks cost $5-$10 at a minimum and at a maximum, can touch $30. So even if you have to spend on a device initially, you can download, purchase and read more eBooks in the amount of money spent to buy a paperback.
Storing books needs room, space, cupboards and area. Whether you stack them up, put them in boxes or leave them lying around, one fact remains – the more books you have, the smaller your room seems to get. Plus, preserving paperbacks is not an easy task. Dust, age, little dust mites and silverfish can all turn today’s bestseller into a yellowing, falling-apart collection of pages. EBooks require no cupboards, no rooms and no boxes. Whether you store them on a laptop, tablet or an e-reader, they occupy the same digital space. And unless you press “delete”, they will not turn into paper bits. OK, viruses or accidental deletion can destroy your eBook collection but you can make a backup of your eBooks. Unless you buy a separate copy or make copies of each book, it is impossible to make a backup of your paperback collection.
How many paperbacks can one physically carry around, in hand or in a bag? Printed books can be hardbacks, which add to weight. In addition, there is the distance being traveled to consider. Catching a flight or from one class across campus to the other, carrying more than 5 books will turn you into a hunchback! There is a physical limitation to how many books can be carried around by one individual. Now think about how many books a child can carry or a senior citizen.
With eBooks, all you need is an e-reader to carry around a whole virtual library. No back-breaking loads to lift and carry around across distances, a one-stop digital device holds all your books in the digital format. Considering the compressed size of an eBook, a huge volume like say The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Tolkien, can be stored on the e-reader at a size of approximately 10-15 MB. So imagine how many titles you can load in one e-reader, depending on its memory capacity. Much more than 5-6 paperbacks. Plus any e-reader available today is infinitely lighter and thinner than a paperback. So carrying around your e-reader allows you to read on the go and makes reading easier on your back too.
With an eBook, the problem of being “out of print” or “no recent edition” is never a problem. Once created and stored in a digital format, the book is never out of print.
An eBook can be read over multiple devices. You can read the same eBook on your laptop, a desktop, an e-reader and even on some mobile phones. True, there are many different digital formats and compatibility can be an issue. But the digital medium is very adjusting and converting between said formats can be done.
Reading in the most impossible situations like, in low or no light and while walking or on the move, becomes possible. Plus for ease of access, font sizes and picture quality can be adjusted, so even with those with poor vision can read at ease.
When it comes to languages, paperbacks can be very inconvenient. Only the most famous and popular books are printed in different languages, that to, they are not printed in most languages. Here’s where an eBook trounces a paperback. EBooks are available in different languages and dialects or the e-reader offers a translation option. So if you want to read the English translation of Voltaire’s works or read the plays of Shakespeare in French, no need to order a book or run around behind various bookstores searching for a translated copy, just go online and download the version you want.
To get an eBook to read, all you have to do is go online, visit the online eBook store from your e-reader or search for eBooks, purchase and download. Ready for your reading pleasure. You can peruse through multiple books or authors or search for a particular title. With books, you need to visit your local bookstore or shop, lending library, ask your friends and neighbors… more time is spent in searching for a book, than actually reading it. Plus on the Internet, there is an amazing array of books to choose from. Amazon alone offers nearly 950,000 eBooks for the Kindle.
An eBook is not made of paper or ink or plastic or any material except digital code. Hence no natural resources are spent in its creation, use or deletion. One paperback requires at least one tree for its production. Its production process also consumes raw materials. So for a smaller green footprint, reading an eBook seems to be the better choice.
From the above points, does the future of books and libraries and stores that carry them seem dim? If eBook purchasing prices and the price of e-readers increase, then books will still reign supreme amongst the masses. Traditional bookworms insist on that the satisfaction from turning a page and holding a book in one’s hand cannot be replaced by a cold electronic device. On the other hand, keeping the example of cassettes and VHS tapes in mind, an ever-increasing library of eBooks could soon be the normal mode of reading. For now the debate rages on, only time will bring out a winner.