Wednesday, March 28, 2012

eReaders and the Future

Third generation Amazon Kindle.
I was reading a book the other day—a paperback from the library, no less—when I came across a word I didn't know. Instictively, I touched the word with my finger. Nothing happened. Oh, yeah, this is a paper book. I have to do this the old way: put in the bookmark, get the dictionary, thumb through to the correct page, read the definitiions associated with a couple pictures that catch my eye, finally read the definition of the word in question, make a mental note to add it to my vocabulary (I've since forgotten it), and then go back to reading. That's a lot to do and I won't lie and say I always look up every word.

I was never opposed to eReaders. I just never thought an eReader would appeal to me. After using one for a year I'm thinking differently. It's so convenient to look up words. I've become quite skilled at hitting the right word, too. It used to take several tries but now I hit the right word with my big thumb 90+% of the time. Along the way the eReader has probably decided that I'm stupid. How many times can you look up the definition for "the". And there are so many free and/or cheap books out there. And they don't take up any bookshelf space, which is at a premium in my house. And you can put twenty, thirty, (haven't reached the max yet) books in your pocket. And you can make notes as you're reading, a real boon if you want to do a review later.

Everyone says eBook sails are rocketing. I admit I'm more likely to take a chance on an eBook than a hard copy. So what's not to like?
  1. Those brick-and-mortar book stores usually have great brownies in their cafes. Be a shame to see those go. I suspect eBooks are a brick-and-mortar's worst nightmare.
  2. What do you do with eBooks when you're done reading them? I'm used to keeping a book if I like it or donating it to the library. Do I burn all the books I want to keep to CD? I paid for them. Shouldn't I get to keep something for my money? Just deleting a book seems weird. I guess I'll get over it.
  3. What will happen to used books?
  4. What will become of book collectors? Will the first downloaded copy be more valuable fifty years from now? And who's keeping track?
  5. What will become of book signings? Maybe authors will hold book signings in some sort of internet chat room and the author will send you a file that when uploaded will magically combine with your electronic copy and add a signature image to the front page. That sounds cool, right? I dunno.
Photo Credit: Attributed to NotFromUtrecht and used in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


  1. Hah! I have a Nook and love it. I've not used a lot of the functions, though, like looking up words or making notes. I just love the convenience of having a bunch of books in one small space. I love being able to download samples.

    That is hilarious about the first downloaded copy being more valuable...

  2. I have a Kindle and it's my favorite reading device... I absolutely love it, because I can have many eBooks downloaded from All you can books and read them whenever I have a little spare time.
    It's great that an e-reader has many other features... a really nice device and not expensive at all!

  3. I can't afford an ereader and don't really want one at this point. They're still too breakable for my taste. For example, I accidentally spilled Asian noodles and sauce on one of my textbooks. The book smelled funny for a while but dried out fine. If worse came to worse, I could have replaced it. But if I had a kindle with 100 books on it and it got too wet to use, I wouldn't be able to read any of the books until I got a replacement.