Wednesday, June 8, 2011

i-Pads & Kindles & Nooks, Oh My

Since it's taking me awhile to finish the books I'm currently reading, I thought I'd answer a question I get asked a lot by people who know how much I like to read - What do you think about E-readers?

I'll start off by saying that I have nothing against them. I'm not one of those doomsayers who worries that they'll eventually replace printed books and will become the only medium of publishing eventually. I think that books will always be printed, albeit I would guess that they'll be printed in fewer numbers as time goes by. And I'm all for that - save the trees and all. As far as I'm concerned, E-readers have the potential to bring about some very positive changes in the publishing industry. For starters, the costs associated with printing books currently leads publishers to take very few risks when deciding which authors get published. With the popularity of E-readers growing, publishers should be able to either significantly reduce those costs or eliminate them almost entirely. I think this will result in many more authors getting their books published and available for us to purchase. The more to choose from, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Another positive impact I think they'll have is an increase in the number of publishers out there. I think E-readers are going to force the large publishing agencies that want to survive to adapt, and I think that will mean becoming smaller and more versatile. I think there's going to be an opportunity for many smaller-type publishing agencies to begin and survive in this new environment and the increased number of agencies will give writers more options to go with and more freedom with what they choose to write. Many authors are already starting to self-publish some of their books in electronic form only, eliminating the publishers entirely.

So why don't I plan to own one anytime soon? Reason number one is that I'm a collector, to the point of obsession. I buy books not just to read them, but to own them. I buy signed first editions whenever possible and that's not something that the Kindle can replace. Although I have been to book signings before where people have brought their Kindle and had the author sign them. I have no idea what, if anything, is going on in their head. It'd be like me having Steve Carell sign my television set. Eventually I'm going to get a new TV and will throw the old one out. I think the same thing that has happened in the music industry is happening now with books. It went from vinyl, to 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and now digital downloads. But as things have evolved in that industry, look what's happened with vinyl records, they're highly sought after and can be quite valuable. I'm hoping the same thing will happen with the written word. The medium will continue to advance, but the good old fashioned book that you can touch and smell, will always have its place.

There's also another reason I prefer printed books. I have children, and I want them to be readers as well. Recent studies have shown how much children benefit intellectually from living in a home that contains books. I recently read a news article written by Teri Harman who writes at The article is here and makes some really excellent points regarding books and children.

So what's your opinion of E-readers?

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