Electronic vs paper books

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Electronic vs paper books

Maggio 18, 2008, 8:56pm

HI all,
I recently saw a friend's Kindle (electronic book reader from Amazon) and I was quite intrigued. I thought of all the paper that could be saved, and the capacity of storing over 200 books at a time. Oh - to think of never being stuck on a place without reading material again!

But then I went to the NYC Antiquarian Book Fair, just out of curiosity. And I was totally enchanted witht the world of book selling and collecting. I immediately came home and rifled (carefully!) through my books to identify first editions, and now have become quite interested in collecting signed editions of my favorite authors/poets.

And I realized that these 2 phenomena are quite at odds. Obvous, I know, but I was struck by the idea that printed books are perhaps closer to obsolesence than I had realized. And that I had been lured by the e-book.

Just thought I would throw this out there for a conversation starter. Would love to hear others' opinions and experiences with e-books and whether they have changed your reading or collecting habits.


Maggio 18, 2008, 10:19pm

I like owning and/or reading both. I just started buying ebooks and now own nearly 300. It’s nice to be able to take my library with me. I own some books in both paper and ebook format. There are some collectables, if one is serious, it’s best not to handle too much. There is nothing wrong with owning an ebook to read and the same book in paper as a signed first edition. I only have so much room and money. Ebooks save space and cost less.

The money I save buying ebooks is money I can spend on paper books.

Maggio 18, 2008, 11:38pm

The e-book format is not one that appeals to me, though I can certainly understand its advantages.

But I am one who prefers the look and feel of a well-bound book, and cannot imagine curling up with a cup of tea (glass of wine) and an e-book reader.

Maggio 19, 2008, 1:34pm

plus the "real" books never run out of batteries or crash. I'm with lilithcat - the e-books just don't satisfy - they are not nearly so lovely or well-crafted, and since they involve fewer senses (idiosyncratically) they seem less connected.

Maggio 19, 2008, 2:01pm

E-ink has come a long way and items like Kindle and Sony eReader are much easier on the eyes than a computer screen and I'm not totally opposed to reading in this fashion. But I see the ability to download RSS feeds and other media as a distraction. That is, one of the benefits of reading a book is that, by virtue of its form, a reader is forced to focus on a single subject, a linear (narrative) train of thought. Hyperlinking is great unless you are trying to stay on topic.

Maggio 19, 2008, 3:16pm

I'm waiting for the 'perfect' reader, btw, and don't yet have one, but I've always found it funny that "curling up" with a bound book is somehow more appealing than with an electronic reader. A book needs two hands 95% of the time, while an ebook reader would require just one and would be much easier when also "curling up" with a beverage. They're usually smaller than my hardbacks, too, and that's helpful. I also wouldn't have to put everything aside to consult a reference like the dictionary, it would be built in. Ditto for note taking. I guess the emotional attachment to the old form is greater than any convenience the new form might offer. It's always been funny to me.

Maggio 22, 2008, 9:51pm

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. I am still very intrigued, I must say, and I appreciate the diverse points of view. I just got home from a 1-day round trip to Indianapolis, and as always, carried one novel for the way out, and one for the way back. But, I actually did work part of the time and didn't even finish one! Guess I can chalk it up to strength-training to carry 2 books when only 1 was needed (and an e-reader would have been less)...
BTW, totally loving the book I nearly finished and must get back to Nature of Air and Water by Regina McBride.

Nov 10, 2008, 12:20pm

I think e-readers have their place, for example I might get one for when I travel to save lugage space (and to free up space for books I buy when traveling :D) but I agree with lilithcat & bookstopshere that nothing replaces a real book. The smell of the pages, the feel of the pages under your fingers, the sound as you turn the page... nothing can replace that.

Feb 26, 2010, 6:25pm

the only place i see e-readers in my life or my children's et al is as educational devices. When I read a book, I am in another person's world and time. I have Fielding;s Works cifrca 1820 and when I hold a volume inmy hand, i am in a world where horses and carriages are the means of travel, the engine hasn't been invented yet, and people still acknowledged one another with a tip of th ehat, curtsy, or smile.

Feb 27, 2010, 8:04am

I, personally would never buy an e-reader, though I can see where they would be useful for others. I love to hold a book and feel the pages and see them on my bookshelves; my hobby has become scouring used book stores/thrift stores searching for books!

Feb 27, 2010, 8:43am

Hi all,
Interesting to see that this thread has picked up again. I see that my initial post is about 15 months old...and my feelings remain mixed. Since that time, I have become a more serious collector as well as book trader/bookcrosser (www.bookcrosser.com). Like lilmanmom, I love going to book sales for the thrilling potential to own more books! E-books don't allow for sharing...but I still travel a lot and still consider an e-reader for that reason.

I decided to get married more easily than deciding about this technology. :) (I guess that says something good about my decision 21 years ago.)

Feb 27, 2010, 8:44am

oops - I meant www.bookcrossing.com - but I forget how to edit the post now. sorry for any misdirection.

Modificato: Feb 27, 2010, 5:19pm

I got an iphone last night. Put an ereader on it to check out what's the fuss. Today, standing in line at the PO for 45 mins. I remembered I had a library in my pocket (according to the proponents of these ereader machines). I read a whole short story collection by PG Wodehouse. Wonderful. Will it replace the copy on the shelf at home. Of course not, but I won't be bringing books w/ me to stand in lines, which are hardly supply optimal reading experiences. It's radio vs. TV vs. DVDs. Same but different. Lots of approaches, many possiblities. I admit: I can dig. Will I get a stand-alone ereader? Probably not. I like the iphone too much and it can do it.

Giu 17, 2013, 9:58am

Here's an article via 3 Quarks Daily concerning paper vs digita and the accumaltion of all sorts of media. A dilemma some of us share. http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2013/06/moving-books.html

Giu 22, 2013, 10:44am

#10> I, personally would never buy an e-reader, though I can see where they would be useful for others. I love to hold a book and feel the pages and see them on my bookshelves; my hobby has become scouring used book stores/thrift stores searching for books!

This basically says it all for me, but then again I also recognize this:

#6> I guess the emotional attachment to the old form is greater than any convenience the new form might offer.

Our bookshelves were basically filled up and my wife suggested we slow our book buying to a minimum until we could find some new shelves that gave us more space by using our wall space more efficiently. That's when I went out and bought a used bookstore. For me, it's not only the feel and physical presence of the books themselves that I enjoy, but also, because I primarily (though not exclusively by a long shot) buy and read used books, I love the idea of a book's personality, if you will. I'm talking about the mystery of never knowing who owned and read your copy of a book before you. Or sometimes there might be an inscription of some sort in the book. I always google the name. Occasionally something interesting turns up!

Finally . . . hmmmm, let me see if I can put this in a way that makes some sense . . . I sort of see my own lifetime of reading as a continuum. It feels to me that such a significant change in medium, from paper to electronic, would constitute too much of a jolt in that history. Again, I recognize that as an emotional rather than a logical response, but that doesn't make it any less valid or real.

Bottom line: to each his/her own. By the way, you're talking to a guy right now who still loves his vinyl LP collection. Certainly I have plenty of CDs, but downloading albums or tracks? No. I have no beef against it (other than the poor fidelity in the files). It's just that somewhere along the line I decided to stop adding new technologies to my personal life unless their advantages seemed irresistible.

Gen 28, 2:08pm

I spend enough time already staring at computer screens of one sort or another.

Physical book, please! Besides, I can still read that one when the electricity goes out or the battery goes dead.

Gen 28, 2:32pm

Personally, I prefer to read a paper book to an e-book. But a close friend of mine, who is dyslexic, has mentioned the accommodations available in an e-book that make reading them easier for her. The money and space issues are convincing as well.

E-books aren't for me, but I have no problem with other people using them, and I don't think that my preference for paper books makes me better than people who use e-readers or anything. I find that kind of snobbery off-putting.

The only real issue I have with e-books as a concept (as opposed to something for me to use, personally) is the DRM. I strongly dislike the current trend toward buying the right to listen or read or watch media rather than the actual media itself. (Look at the fine print in your user agreement with Amazon or other e-book vendor. It's disquieting, to say the least.) The idea that a publisher could just remove your file from your e-reader at any time seems very nefarious to me. Luckily, it's actually perfectly legal to jail-break your e-books, and there's free software online to do it with.

Feb 3, 1:47pm

Whoa, reviving this thread was an eye-opener -- 10 years later, I still only use my iPhone to read e-books, except when I'm in the throes of research and can download an e-copy and search within, skim, browse, and click away to write, copy-paste a reference and move on.

Feb 3, 1:55pm

If I'm reading a fluff, throwaway, one-time-read, etc. then ebook is fine. But for reference or a book that I would read again, I get the paper copy. I do worry about space constraints though. And I have been known to purchase a paper book just bc it has pretty cover as well...

Feb 3, 1:59pm

I recently saw a friend's Kindle (electronic book reader from Amazon)

Oh, for the olden days, when you had to explain what a Kindle was!

Maggio 14, 1:05pm

Kindle, shcmindle. Give me a physical book, on printed on paper. No batteries to go dead, no worries about a power outage (candles work fine for light to read by). And far less eye-strain for me.