The Joy of E-Booking

I hear a lot of people saying all sorts of things about e-books, and often find myself sitting on my hands trying to keep myself from getting embroiled in pointless online bickering with people who are just interested in being loud, not having a discussion. It should be obvious, but, just to be clear, e-books are neither a harbinger of doom nor the savior of humanity: they are just another way to access content. That said, I love this mode of access and have increasingly nasty thoughts regarding airline electronic device restrictions. Now it’s not like I’m burning my books, but let me tell you some of the things I love about e-books…

1. They Let Me Keep All My Books!

Sadly I’ve reached the point where every inch of shelf space in my house is filled with books. I mean every inch. I have books shelved two deep in most places and there are stacks of books underneath my bed and inside some of the cupboards. And all my wallspace is already filled with shelves so there is no room for more shelving space. What this means is if I want a new book I have to give up a book to get it. E-books, however, take up the same amount of space no matter how many you have, so while every new hard copy book costs me a book, every new e-book is a freebee.

2. Easy Access

With the quantity of books I have it can be difficult to find the book I want when I want it (especially since the biggest bookshelf is actually positioned behind one of the couches). Also I read fast, so if I’m lounging in bed overcome by disease or sloth, chances are good I will finish one book and immediately want another (a version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie starring me would be very repetitive), and definitely not want to crawl out of bed and go find it. Here again an e-reader is priceless. Books are easily pulled up and very quickly loaded and you can be reading your next book with no shelf searching and no time to pause and reflect about how you should be doing some sort of actual work…

3. The Price

Now obviously there’s an initial cost investment for an e-reader since you have to pay for the reader (hint: Christmas is coming!), but after that there are a lot of low cost and free book options. First off pretty much everything in the public domain (like all the classics of literature) is available for free; just look around online. Next Amazon and B&N are pretty much always running promotions on something you’ll like and will have slashed the price down to lower than standard paperback prices. Additionally there are other resources. Many publishers will offer some books for free or very little periodically (like the Baen free library) and now many libraries across the country offer e-book checkouts as well (I will do a separate post with how to check these out for anyone who is interested.). It is true that overall e-book prices are not lower than paperback book prices, but if you are a good shopper there are many, many opportunities for low cost books.

Let me give you an example of the joy of e-booking. Recently I had a flight very, very early in the morning. I got to the airport and started reading my book to stay awake, and quickly realized that I had made a tactical error: I only had a few chapters left in this book and had forgotten to pack more. As soon as I finished the last chapter I pulled out my Kindle. None of the books I had loaded matched my mood so I got on the airport wifi (the Long Beach airport is the best—and part of that is their free wifi!) and browsed through the LA public library e-book collection. I found three books I was in the mood for and had all three loaded by the time I finished eating my croissant. The only sad part of the story comes when the stewardess made us turn off our devices. I still don’t understand why the pilots get to use their iPads and we don’t…

Nothing will ever supplant my love of books—but then again it’s not like my Kindle is trying to do so. Both formats have strengths and weaknesses, but in the end it’s all about the story you read; not the way you read it.

One Response to “The Joy of E-Booking”

  1. David J. Peterson says:

    And you didn’t even mention the most obvious pro to me: search! No more endlessly paging through the book to find that one sentence you’re after! What a revelation!

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