Digital or Analog?

To my personal shock, I’m thinking about e-readers these days. Like getting one. I’m a huge fan of books, actual pages, the smell, the heft, the shelves full of them that surround me. Why would I think of getting an e-reader? Sigh. Research.

Really???? I hear you thinking, or, possibly even saying loudly to your computer screen. How can an e-reader be helpful for research?????

It’s like this. I use my computer for lots and lots of research activities like looking up facts, finding bibliography information, locating resources, and others I can’t even name right now. Some of the resources I find are pdf files containing scans of old books. Remember, I’ve been working on 19th-century women who published about the Bible. I HATE sitting at my desk and trying to read these pdf files on my laptop screen. Hate. I do it, but when I read on the laptop, with the keyboard in the way, I don’t read carefully. I read for the next snippet of info, for the next quote, for the page number for a footnote. And I can’t read the pdf files on the bus on the way to work. I’ve seen people haul laptops out and read stuff on the subway (at least I think they are reading stuff, they usually aren’t typing) but that is just a pain. I can take my laptop over to my reading chair and read there, but it is still clunky and the keyboard is lurking, waiting for me to type something. It doesn’t feel right.

Of course, what I’d really like is book copies of all those 19th-century books. I’ve got some. The ones I want are usually quite expensive. Go look up Sarah Trimmer on ebay. Anyhow, it seems that an e-reader would solve some of the issues I’ve got with reading old books. And journal articles. Maybe.

Do you have an e-reader? What do you think of it? How is the reading experience? Do tell.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Digital or Analog?

  1. E- Readers are the future for exactly the reasons you give.

    If we could all afford leather bound editions, then we would buy them, but we can’t.

    An E-Reader gives you a portable way to carry around lots of books without the weight attached.

    I also find for writing, I can email my work to my E-Reader and then read it on a screen that feels so much more natural than a laptop.

    I have blogged a few times on E-readers.

    • I’m not sure e-readers and no books are the future, but certainly some kind of mix appears to be the future.

      • For normal Day to Day reading E-Readers are the future.

        For books you cherish, paper books are better. If a book makes it to my bookshelf it must be pretty amazing, as it had to be good enough to get off the kindle first.

  2. AnnaT

    nothing compares to a book! I do have an e-reader and I usually have one book on the go on the e-reader and a real one in hand (if not multiple) There are a few benefits to the e-reader, mainly my shoulder is doing much better since I stopped lugging around 3 books + at a time. I has also come in handy in downloading some classics and being able to shove them into the hands of young ones who are “bored”. The downside – its not a book!!! And also, there are some places you can’t read your e-reader, like on a plane, until the seatbelt light goes off after you have taken off (so you do need a back up real book!) The main positive of my e-reader that I love is that I can the library without leaving home. While I love to go to the library and go at least 2-3times a week, there are days when I just don’t want to leave the house, and being able to browse and download library books from home is great! Granted some older titles aren’t availible yet – usually new books are easy to get, the holds lists are not really long and you can pretty much browse the system and download any time of the day (except between 5-7 am when they are updating it) So that is a big plus. I have only ever had one technical issue with my e-reader, and it was easily fixed through a “reset”. I will never ever give up books. Like I mentioned, I always have one on the go, however, I do find the e-reader compliments my joy of reading. It will never replace my books but its a convenience and I enjoy having it as a go to item when needed.

  3. Julie C

    Im similar to Anna. Convenience. I originally bought mine was I packing for a holiday, and realized I was planning to pack 6 books..just in case! (I was going to be on the beach!) I also happen to love magazines so I fixed the wait on the plane with a magazine. I still buy a lot of books, but some of my books (book club etc) are just fine on an e-reader.

  4. J

    I love my Kindle for iPhone. It means I ALWAYS have a book with me – which is great when you find yourself idle waiting for the chiropractor, or standing in a checkout line. I actually read MORE now that I have this option.

    As you pointed out, it is also very convenient when travelling. You can have 100’s of books to choose from and never run out of reading material! It sure did salvage my last “rainy” vacation!

    However, I do understand the concern that as this becomes an ever popular medium, that the availability of traditionally bound books will be come harder to find, and will likely be at a premium.

    One could debate that it will both enhance the likeliness of one to get published as it’s easier/cheaper…….and you could also argue that it is hurting the publishing industry as I’ve seen massive discounting on e-books (and the mark-downs come faster than on traditionally printed materials). To my surprise, you can frequently “buy” them for free on Amazon. Certainly that can’t be good for the industry…..

    When you buy a book – it tends to live a nice long life. You either keep it on your bookshelf, admiring it, and re-reading it periodically….or you pass it along to the next person…..and so on and so on. Our knowledge of history is the result of such passing of written works. I wonder who will be the keeper of our e-libraries to pass forward to the future? Technology might actually hurt this. As technology changes frequently – will we become more likely to lose these works? It’s a fair question when you consider Beta vs VHS issue of the early 80’s or the evolution of Vinyl to tape to CD to MP3 files in the last couple of decades.

    It’s a tough debate – aptly described by a famous quotation (for whom you’ll have to forgive me for not properly researching and giving credit to the author – as my research skills are not as well honed as yours likely are)….

    Progress is full of pitfalls…..
    And change is not always progress…..
    J

    • Too true on change and progress. And it isn’t really that much cheaper to publish e-books — unless you don’t pay the author, and as an author, I’m not in favour of that at all. I think you can self-publish more easily in some ways. And smaller books/short reads may be easier to access in this format. But I don’t think it is necessarily all that, nor that books will disappear so easily. I work in a bookshop, so maybe I’m just burying my head in the sand, but I’m trying not to.

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