by Savannah J. Foley
A few months ago I was given a Nook. I would never have purchased one of my own accord, but now that I had one, I had to face my own stereotypes about e-books and e-readers, and have since become a convert.
There’s still a strong debate going over whether e-readers have come to destroy the world as we know it. Writers and readers get up in arms about this topic quite easily, so today I thought we’d explore some e-reader stereotypes, and what I’ve discovered since owning one:
Stereotype 1: I could never use an E-Reader because I love the way books feel and smell.
Eh, I don’t mind as much as I thought I would. I love books, too -the smell the, feel, the wing-like sound they make when you flip them with your thumb… I love them, honestly, but I think roughly the same argument about e-books could be applied to music: People didn’t want to switch from Vinyl to Cassettes, and from Cassettes to CDs, and from CDs to virtual albums. But now we listen to our music online, on our laptops, on our iPods… you can download individual songs without ever seeing what the album looked like. It’s the same with e-books: the data is the same.
Did virtual music kill physical album releases? No. Will e-readers kill physical book sales? I doubt it. (See this article for elaboration)
Stereotype 2: I like being able to flip through books in the bookstore before I decide to buy them.
If you’ve ever previewed a book on Amazon, you know that’s a cop-out excuse. But, the cool thing about the Nook at least, is that if you go to a Barnes & Noble you can sample books using the store’s own network. The only disadvantage is you can’t scan through pages quickly like you can with an actual book.
Stereotype 3: If I buy into e-readers, then I’m a traitor to the cause.
This is the most prevalent stereotype I’ve seen. I feel like writers are afraid that if they embrace e-readers they’ll be labeled either hipsters or traitors, and I think this stems from unfair prejudices about e-readers.
We’re human. Often, we fear change. E-readers came along, and they’re the first evolution of book formats in centuries. Music has certainly undergone some rapid changes, but books have remained the same until now. I think it’s natural that we would feel some apprehension and nostalgia. I remember when e-readers were first introduced, everyone was in a hysteria, asking, are books dead? Is the publishing industry failing? Will self-publishers ruin us all? Writers are going through the same trials that musicians started going through in the 90’s. But the music industry isn’t dead, and neither is the literary one; we’re just evolving.
E-books are a fact. Digital rights are being worked into publishing contracts. Digital books aren’t going away. This resistance will fade in a few years, just as resistance against iPods and DVDs flagged.
And, let’s think to the future… do you think the evolution of book formats is going to stop here? Hell no! In a few decades we’ll have foldable virtual devices. We’ll be able to flip holographic pages at the same speeds as analog. If you truly object to not being able to touch the page you’re reading, just give it ten years and a virtual option will be available to you.
You don’t know until you’ve tried it. You can talk about theory and preferences and what you feel like now, but until you’ve spent some time with an e-reader you just don’t know how you’re going to like it. I remember when I got my first cell phone, I was disgusted. What do I need a cell phone for? Then, what do I need texting for? Email on my phone? Internet browser? I didn’t know what I was missing until I had it.
And it’s not like I’ve thrown out all my physical books. I still have boxes and boxes of books, and I probably will forever. I like having physical books on my bookshelves. There’s just some stories that I want for my personal library, physically beside me while I write. But when I’m running around town, I want my little Nook device in my purse, not taking up much space, and ready to whip out at a moment’s notice.
Additional Benefits of the E-Reader:
- If you drop your book in a lake, it’s gone forever. If you drop your e-reader in a lake, you can re-download the books onto another e-reader.
- I can take my whole library with me in my purse.
- I can download a new book and be reading it within two minutes. I don’t have to go to a bookstore or wait for one to ship something to me. I see it, I want it, I click it, I read it. That simple.
- E-books are cheaper (generally; see this article for the reason why some stay so expensive). I buy books I never would have normally, because the price is so good.
- Lots of e-books are free. I can read classics and public domain books for free. Sometimes bookstores even give away new books for free as a way of generating interest.
- You can customize your text and font on an e-reader. I can make it any size and style I want; whatever helps me improve my reading experience.
Drawbacks of the E-Reader:
- I wanted to loan my mom The Hunger Games… only to realize I had it on my Nook. So I either have to loan the entire device to her (not gonna happen), or wait until e-readers are standard enough that everyone has one.
- Flipping pages. Boy, do I love to flip pages and search for stuff. But that’s a really slow process on the Nook.
- You have to charge it. Once I left my charger at work over the weekend… by Sunday I was sitting on my couch staring at a wall because I’d run the battery into the ground.
What are your thoughts on e-readers and our future?
Savannah J. Foley is the author of the Antebellum (originally known as Woman’s World) series on Fictionpress. She has written five novels, owns her own freelance writing company, and is signed with the Bradford Literary Agency. Antebellum is currently out on submissions. Her website is www.savannahjfoley.com, but she updates more frequently on her livejournal.