General Question

eupatorium's avatar

What do think of those digital book devices?

Asked by eupatorium (338points) July 11th, 2009

I don’t like the idea, personally. I like books to be real, tangible objects. To do away with ink and paper in favor of the more ethereal digital screen is scary to me. Like we’ll lose the ability to give our thoughts permanence. So I’m wondering if many other fellow book-lovers feel the same? Or is there something wonderful in these devices that I don’t see?

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54 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I’m with you. I love everything about books… the feel of the paper, the smell of new and old books, physically turning the pages. It’s all part of the experience to me. I think of digital readers as a convenient addition, but certainly not a replacement!

DominicX's avatar

I hope that the only thing they do is encourage more people to read. I don’t want them to replace tangible books. I love real books. Besides, staring at a screen is not good for your eyes.

Look, I’m no “old fogey”; I always want the latest and greatest technology. But this is something that I just don’t have any need or want for.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I like the idea of it. If they were designed to feel more like a book with a leather cover and less like a cheaply made piece of consumer electronics they Would likely be more successful.

The other major problem is that they are so expensive that very few can afford them.

Good idea but needs work.

cyn's avatar

I agree with @augustlan and @DominicX. Certaintly, I love reading books, and the smell is just… i can’t think of the right word…great? They would work for traveling…so you won’t carry a lot of books, but other than that I prefer the thought of having a real book in front of my eyes.

MrItty's avatar

I see them as complimentary, not a replacement. And yes, they do have certain significant advantages beyond paper-and-ink books:
* I can fit my entire library on my iPhone or Kindle, or whatever. In contrast, every few months of purchasing real books, I either need to sell old ones, or buy a new bookshelf. I’m running out of space.
* I can carry the electronic device in my pocket, rather than carrying a large hardcover with me wherever I go.
* Those who read more than one book at a time (I’m not one of them, but I know they exist) can choose whatever book they want to read at any given time, and they generally auto-remember where they left off (no need for bookmarks or dog ears)
* The screens can be adjusted for brightness and text size, when your eyes are failing you.
* They cost less (after the cost of the device itself)
* No ink rubs off on your fingers.
* Many of them have the ability to purchase new books whereever and whenever you want, rather than going to a physical bookstore when you can find the time or ordering online and waiting for it to be shipped.

There are disadvantages too, of course:
* They need to be charged
* The screens are smaller (the new Kindle DX being an exception)
* They can’t be used during takeoff or landing of an airplane.
* Like others said, they lack the “feel” of real books.

ShanEnri's avatar

They’re too expensive and thinking about trying to read something that’s not a book gives me a headache!

jamielynn2328's avatar

It would never be a purchase that I would make, but if it attracts people to reading, then I am all for it. I don’t think that enough people read, so maybe bringing reading and technology together is a good thing.

I also think that since the new version of Kindle can read out loud, it is an excellent tool for people who love reading, but experience learning issues such as Dislexia. One of the smartest people I know has Dislexia, and if he were not able to download and listen to books, he wouldn’t be able to experience reading at all.

MrItty's avatar

@ShanEnri…. she said, as she’s reading Fluther on a computer screen….

ShanEnri's avatar

MrItty- Yes and that’s why I have a headache! giggling and why I don’t stay on the PC for a long time!

Darwin's avatar

The only advantage I can think of is if your eyes are aging as many eyes do. When a book is not published in large print, an electronic reader would allow enlarging the font, hence allowing one to continue to read whatever books one chooses.

I do like books on tape, but that is rather different from reading and is most useful when I am engaged in some other task that doesn’t take the majority of my attention, such as sorting laundry or dusting.

However, whenever possible I would opt for a real book. I like the smell of the pages, the heft of the book, and the feeling of turning pages as I move through the book.

MrItty's avatar

As far as “too expensive”, I agree that’s true for the Sony eReader and the Kindle. But Amazon has released a free “Kindle for iPhone” application. If you have an iPhone already, like I do, there is no additional cost to use Amazon’s e-book service (other than the cost of the “books”, of course).

MacBean's avatar

The idea of being able to carry hundreds of books with me in my pocket makes me giddy. Right now I have six books in progress. One of them is a 1300-page hardcover. I’d love to be able to carry all of them with me so I can pick what to read when I’m actually in the doctor’s waiting room, instead of trying to anticipate what I’m going to want to work on, or not being able to bring what I’d prefer because it’s too big.

I’ll never give up actual paper books, though. Electronics are just accessories to the real thing.

prude's avatar

are you talking about eReaders?

SirBailey's avatar

The people I know that have the Kindle LOVE it! And they’re avid book readers. They can’t live without it.

ShanEnri's avatar

I do have to agree with MacBean! Headache or not!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think in the long run, they’re better for the environment and make sense for a traveler and is an option to preserve books better than my shelves

FujiokaHaruhi192's avatar

Nope, stupid idea, simply because it costs you more money in ink to print it out than it would for you to actually buy a normal copy. Don’t let it suck you in it’s not an easier or cheaper option at all. There’s just no benefits, unless you need to have the book instantly for whatever reason. Books are so beautiful I don’t like the idea at all.

MacBean's avatar

@FujiokaHaruhi192: You don’t print the books. You have them on an electronic reader. There’s no ink or paper involved.

MrItty's avatar

@FujiokaHaruhi192 why on earth would you “print them out”? That makes no sense.

As for “no benefits”, please see my earlier post in this thread. There certainly are benefits.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Has anyone here ever used one?

MrItty's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic I’ve downloaded a book to my iPhone, via the Kindle application. Haven’t started reading it yet. (It’s part of a trilogy, and I’m still on the prequel, which I have in paper-and-ink)

MacBean's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic: A friend of mine has a Kindle, which I got to look at for a few minutes. It was nifty as hell. I want one so bad I’ve considered selling some of my actual books to be able to afford it.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I’ve only seen them on the train. The fact that I could read one from 5 feet away was interesting.

I asked because several people have changed their opinions once they have read one.
I’m a minimalist so I love the idea of having one device on which you read many books.
Books are for reading not decoration.
Besides, any one who’s ever moved knows those boxes full of books are heavy.

DominicX's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic

I’ve used one. My dad has the Amazon Kindle. It’s okay, I guess.

I guess I just don’t read enough to want one. I’m currently reading a book, but I have it in paperback and that’s good enough.

jamielynn2328's avatar

Books might not be for decoration, but there is something comforting about being surrounded by good books.

doggywuv's avatar

What I don’t like about digital information is that it doesn’t seem very permanent. If I had a huge collection of digital books as opposed to physical books I’d be afraid that they’d get deleted in some way and lost forever.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@doggywuv books can be burned in a fire

MrItty's avatar

@doggywuv Digital books are more permanent than paper books. Paper books can be destroyed by fire or lost on a bus or ruined by a spilled drink (etc). Digital media can at the least be backed up, and depending on the source, may be stored on the store’s servers, which have multiple redundant backup systems. When you buy a physical book, you buy that book only, and if anything happens to it, you’re SOL.

doggywuv's avatar

@MrItty Sorry, I didn’t know since I don’t know very much about digital media.

FujiokaHaruhi192's avatar

Oh right, sorry, I missunderstood. I thought that you meant ebooks. Sorry about that everyone. I understand what you mean now. I reread your details and realized how stupid my comment was. Sorry everyone.

FujiokaHaruhi192's avatar

Btw as in the ebooks that you don’t download to a device, the ones that you pay for and they are instantly printed out.

jpietrangelo's avatar

I think they’ve got a bit further to go, but without question may well be how many of us read our morning paper in the not-to-near future. There’s a reason that newspapers are investing heavily in electronic ink technology. We’ve got to go through the clunky phase associated with the look and feel of today’s electronic reader devices while the industry figures out how to cost-effectively package the technology.

MrItty's avatar

@FujiokaHaruhi192 eBook, to me, means digital media. What you are describing sounds more like ”print on demand” or “publish on demand”

augustlan's avatar

I sure would hate to drop one in the bathtub.

Darwin's avatar

With my luck, that is exactly what I would do. Does Amazon have any plans for a waterproof Kindle for those of us who like to read in the tub?

SirBailey's avatar

Someone briefly mentioned this above but I’ll highlight it here:

One of the coolest features of the Kindle (and no other ebooks work this way at this time I don’t think) is that you do NOT buy the book on the internet using a pc, and you do NOT connect the ebook to your pc and download the book (the way you get iTunes music for your iPod).

You buy the book DIRECTLY from the Kindle and it GOES DIRECTLY to the Kindle (the way my Verizon phone allows me to get music).

So you never have to step outside your room or hotel room to buy a paper, or a magazine, or a book, etc. You can get stuff on your train ride, etc.

Now how cool is THAT???

If this feature is important to you, you go the Kindle route.

sweetangel's avatar

i think its a good idea but it shouldnt replace paper books.as some people like myself enjoy paper books! some people also like myself carnt stay staring at a screen for ages!

SirBailey's avatar

It’s not for everyone. It’s not for me because I don’t read novels much. But I hear that some schools have or are planning to put text books on it. How great it would be to not have to lug books around in school.

JustLeDouxIt's avatar

my mom had just bought one about a month ago. she absolutely loves it, and i do, too. even though the device itself is $400, the books can be downloaded right from the Kindle and only cost at the most $5. but we do read books like it’s our job, so it is convinient that we have all of those books in one spot.

augustlan's avatar

@JustLeDouxIt “We read books like it’s our job…” I love that!

eupatorium's avatar

Just to put it out there.. I just realized that I missed the ‘you’ in my question. Oops! Did anyone else notice?

MacBean's avatar

@eupatorium: Yes, but we knew what meant, so we answered anyway. :)

Gundark's avatar

I haven’t used one, but I see both pros and cons. Pros; the ability to carry around lots of books on a small device is appealing. Cons; being dependent on batteries to read books is not appealing. Paper for traditional books comes from a renewable source; the petroleum used to make eReaders and batteries is not renewable, which bothers me some. And the price is way too high, in my opinion. But once the price comes down (significantly), I can definitely see myself buying one.

MrItty's avatar

@Gundark the petroleum used to make eReaders and batteries is also used in the machinery that creates the books and as fuel for the trucks, planes, and ships that transport the books. Just because the physical media of the book is ‘green’, doesn’t mean the product is.

Gundark's avatar

@MrItty Good point; one thing I wish we did a better job of overall was to determine which products were greener overall, when production, distribution, and disposal methods are taken into account.

My thought on this is that there is as much or more machinery used to create the eReader as there are to create books. I’ve worked in book binderies and I’ve known numerous friends and family members that work in both the wood products industry (paper mills, logging, etc.) and the industries that create microchips and plastics used for stuff like eReaders. From what I’ve seen (as a non-expert on either industry), I would say the means of production is just as likely to be a wash in terms of environmental impact as it is to be overbalanced toward one or the other. If so, the product would remain the determining factor in which is the greener product.

And I’m not necessarily arguing that books are greener than eReaders. I only said it bothered me. And what bothers me mainly is that I don’t know which product is greener, so I can’t really make an intelligent decision either way. I would be interested in seeing some statistics that show which product is the greener product when production is taken into account with all products, including eReaders and books.

mtirado's avatar

I won a Kindle and really like it but I only read from it when I travel, I have the first edition of it and the buttons can make you change pages accidentally all the time! However when I travel it is great to be able to take 20 books with me and not have to carry the weight. The downside to that is the books I want are not always available on the whispernet.

SirBailey's avatar

@Gundark , in your calculations, you have to remember that it’s not a “1:1” ratio, i.e., one eReader will replace MANY books (I don’t remember the specific amounts) and this amount will only increase over time. One eReader does NOT replace only one book.

Gundark's avatar

@SirBailey I thought of that, but I was too lazy to include it in my answer. Thanks for keeping me honest!

MrItty's avatar

Wow. Okay. This rather changes my mind on the whole Kindle/eBook thing. Apparently Amazon has just caved in to publisher preference to “rescind” already-completed sales of certain books. The books were deleted from users’ Kindles and their money credited back to their accounts.

http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/some-e-books-are-more-equal-than-others/

As it said in the article, that’s no different than Barnes & Noble sneaking into my house at night and stealing a book off my book shelf, and leaving me a check in return. Unacceptable.

That something like that is even possible with eBooks makes me completely reconsider my position, and adds a GIANT “con” to my pro/con list.

augustlan's avatar

@MrItty That is pretty messed up. The fact that they were George Orwell’s books is just the icing on the cake.

Darwin's avatar

@MrItty – Now that sucks! Although it is ironic that it happened to books by George Orwell.

I am not going to buy a Kindle.

Gundark's avatar

@MrItty Apparently the technology isn’t quite mature yet. It’s still a good idea, but I guess I’ll be waiting a while longer.

wisdomtooth's avatar

I have also been a diehard “real book” lover. For Christmas Santa got me the Kindle 2. I am a total convert now!
The Kindle is quite a pleasure. I can commute to work with a TON of books to delight in at once. You can also get sample chapters of thousands of books, and it has encouraged me to branch into areas of knowledge that I would not have bothered with if I had, say, gone to a bookstore or library. The brand new books are only $9.99. It reads much like a real book, not like reading on your computer. It has a feature for you to add your own notes and make your own bookmarks. You have wireless access to amazon.com at all times. A new book is only a small click away!
I thought that I loved the actual books, but I have learned that what I love more is
plain ole READING! I adore my Kindle, and have bought one for my daughter’s Valentine’s Day birthday, too. Reading is such a blessing, so enjoy it any way you prefer, but I do encourage you to go to the amazon website and see their short
walkthrough of the kindle 2. It’s a great little electronic. Oh, and if you get tired of reading you can listen to your book by choosing it’s audio feature!!

GracieT's avatar

It is interesting, and something I just realized, but ereaders have actually been around for years. We had one when I was in elementary school. I demonstrated it during my elementary school’s parent teacher conferences. It only had certain books available and only was used in schools but I guess it actually was one of the first ereaders!

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