Pros and cons of the e-reader – should you have one?

1955 Chevrolet Dashboard

I was born in ’57. I learned to type on a manual typewriter. When I needed to spell a difficult word I picked up a dictionary. We used an atlas to look up foreign countries and to figure out if Milltown Road intersected Kirkwood Highway. The encyclopedia weighed about 200 lbs., without the bookcase.

When this new-fangled craze – e-readers – came along, I was skeptical. I gave it a shot (albeit a small shot, but I gave it a shot!). I read part of a book on my d-in-law’s Kindle. I downloaded a book to my computer.

I don’t like e-reading. For now, I’m sticking with paper. I like to hold a book in my hand; I like to turn a paper page. I can’t see curling up next to the grandkids with a Kindle or a Nook.

Let’s face it – it’s the wave of now and the future. Often, e-readers are a cornerstone for new writers and can lead to overwhelming success. E-readers can also propel successful writers into a whole ‘nother dimension.

Fully aware that my negative opinion on e-readers may not be shared, I queried fellow writers at Writer Unboxed on Facebook. Here are their responses:

Ray Anderson – I just bought my wife a Kindle, and she loves it. I’m still not sold. I have a collection of 6,700 books (and counting). I love books as physical books. Nevertheless, I’ll probably get my own Kindle before the year is out. Why? Convenience! On a trip, I don’t have to lug half a dozen books. And if I want something new, I can download it from anywhere.

Karen Kenney Smith – Maybe it’s the economy or the lack of storage space but I had been buying fewer and fewer print books the last few years. I have my prized collection of favorite authors, especially the signed editions. I started with the Kindle app for my PC as a test drive, then bought one. I went with the Kindle primarily due to the ability to read outside. I also like the ease with which I can carry around several “books” at the same time. I am reading C. C. Humphreys’ *Vlad, the Last Confessions* in print, just finished Steve Umstead’s *Gabriel’s Redemption* on my Kindle and will start R. A. Evans’ *Asylum Lake* next. I also dip in and out of Donald Maass’ new book, *The Breakout Novelist* on my Kindle. Without having to lug 3 or 4 books around or find shelf space. I haven’t tried loading one of my mss on it yet. Some love that ability; it seems too
cumbersome to me. I have a SONY e-reader that I won. I haven’t figured out the benefits of it over a Kindle, yet.

David Michael Prosser – Though I can see the obvious advantages of an e-reader when packing for the holidays, especially if you’re staying in a hotel room 24/7 reading non-stop, I prefer the feel of a real book in my hands. Maybe having the author sign it (which I guess messes up the screen on the e-reader), or perhaps just having a full collection on your shelves which  friends can borrow from. I do have kindle for pc and do have two books on Kindle but I have the paper copies on Amazon too.

Shelley Souza – For the same reasons as Ray, I love books as objects, but I started reading books on my iPad a year ago. From there, I decided the latest Kindle was advanced enough to invest in it (sometimes I’m an early adopter of technology, sometimes I wait for a later generation). I only use the Kindle when I’m outside. It’s lighter than my iPad and fits in most of my bags. At home, I continue to read print books and books on my iPad. Like Ray, I enjoy the convenience of instant samples and/or purchases.

Rachel Grow Law – My favorite feature of the Kindle is that no hands are necessary (aside from the occasional click of a button). Whenever I’m completely engrossed in a book and don’t want to stop reading to dry my hair or feed the kids lunch I can just lay the Kindle on the counter; my hands keep busy with one thing and my eyes with another (admittedly the kids look much messier than usual). My least favorite feature of the Kindle is the amount of time it takes to flip back 50 or 60 pages. If I’m at a book group and we’re discussing a particular section, oftentimes the ladies have moved on to a different subject by the time I’ve found the page. I guess the bottom line is that there are things I like and dislike about each. Neither book nor Kindle is so amazing that it makes the other obsolete.

Penny Epel – I have apps on my iPad – Kindle, Nook, iBooks. I use all three 🙂

Amy Mueller – My husband purchased a Nook for me and I was apprehensive about it at first. I’ve now come to love it and read much more from my Nook than I do physical books. We have a rather large library as it is, and I am a ferocious reader. I read a book every couple of days, a week for a thicker volume. Space is becoming limited. I will still by first editions or autographed editions of my favorite authors and favorite books, but I do buy everything in e format first. My use started when I was doing research and would have to carrying several large texts around with me. It just made it easier. It went from research to leisure, though, when I read a book and was so blown away by the author that I wanted to read everything else she had written. I was able to buy it and have it immediately available.

Jess Lane – My husband just got a Kobo Touch and I checked it out yesterday. I like the portability. Not being able to just flip through pages to get to where I was in the physical book was a bit irksome, but I can completely see where the convenience of having something small for trips would be a great improvement on packing books along. (I remember when I studied abroad, half my suitcase was full of books I couldn’t live without. An e-reader would have made that suitcase a LOT lighter.)

Susan Vigilante – I like e-books best for things like current affairs. “Game Change” was a great and exciting read when it came out; now it’s just old news. By getting it on an e-reader I a) saved half the price and b) don’t feel guilty about it sitting on my already overcrowded bookshelves now. For a while I thought e-readers might be great for things like new mysteries, too. But I found I just didn’t feel comfortable bringing my Kindle to the beach!

***

How do you feel about the e-reader? What are the pros and cons for you? Do you own one or will you buy one?

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” ~Attributed to Groucho Marx

Sources – Genealogy In Time (photo), Quote Garden

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16 Comments

Filed under E-books & E-publishing

16 responses to “Pros and cons of the e-reader – should you have one?

  1. John Bernard

    i now have downloaded Kindle to my iPhone, iPad, and Windows desktops at work and home. My wife has Kindle for iPad as well and we can share books as she uses my Kindle account for her purchases. I can read anytime I have a minute as I always have my phone with me. No books to tote around. Reading in bed at night without a cumbersome booklight has actually made reading fun again. Airplane trips are great as the iPad is compact and contain not just my books but also my e-mail and other important docs. This has got to be the way of the future for the masses.

  2. That’s all fine for the masses. I’m going to die with a paperbook, a notebook, and a pen in my hands! 🙂

  3. I’m interested in all the reviews. I received a Kindle for my birthday, but returned it unopened. (I know crazy.) I discovered the Kindle can’t be used with our library’s ebook lending system. There is a chance it will be available by December with a newer version… so I wait patiently. I wanted the reader, because I can’t seem to read anything on the iPhone. And, I thought a reader would be useful while following a growing toddler around. (I know Moms have read for centuries without a reader, but I thought it might make it easier. I do a lot with one hand now.) With books being in so many different reader formats, I’m leaning more toward the iPad and downloading apps. Of course, a greater upfront expense.

    • @stacysjensen I promise I’m not an Amazon salesperson, but I have to point out one advantage of the Kindle over the iPad. Apparently Amazon created the Kindle to have no backlight so, just like a book, there is no “digital” strain on your eyes.

      My sister found that Amazon is going to begin its own library e-book lending system, so I’m pretty excited for that. Here’s the link if you want to read more about it: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1552678&highlight=

      As for mommying and reading, I think e-readers are awesome as long as you can keep the kids from playing with them 🙂

      • Ha on the salesperson comment. Thanks for the info. The price of the iPad my “leanings” in check. I appreciate the backlight function and the news of a lending system. I also read a post sources for free books, etc. just a few minutes ago. So, I’m saving this in my “kindle” file.

  4. For busy moms, I can see how much easier it would be – and I know moms of young children always have to carry a lot of other stuff! And for the younger generation it seems a non-issue (they have grown up with computers). I can also see carrying a Kindle or Nook on vacation … if I could take a vacation! 🙂

  5. Karen, I absolutely, positively, hate to disagree with a new friend. Before moving to SoCal from FL, I had a library of over 2,000 books. I knew we were downsizing, but getting rid of books – NO! I can’t even tell you how many books I donated to the Orlando Library (they actually sell them at book fairs to raise money for new books) and how many I sold at a garage sale. I can tell you I gave quite a few how-to-write books to a friend’s son & his girlfriend. He’s now an Archaeologist going for his Ph.d. I truly know the value of books.

    That being said, I used the Kindle app on my iPhone for over a year before considering a regular eReader. When my husband and I sat down and figured out which one to buy, we decided not to buy the eReaders but to buy an iPad2. I immediately downloaded the three apps I mentioned above and I use every single one of them. I must have 25 books between them. And I can download a free sample/chapter to see if the book interests me, not to mention the free books. I love reading a good cozy, any type of mystery really, and Amazon offers scads of books for free. They hope to whet your appetite so you’ll buy some. I also use my iPad2 to catch some writer’s inspiration, but that’s another blog 😉

  6. No worries, mate. We all do what’s best for our own fancies, eh? So, when deciding, did you E? I? E? I? Oh!

  7. I like it more than I thought I ever would. But even if I never read one single novel on it, it was worth the price for me to be able to upload my own manuscripts to read “like a book” for editing purposes. As well, I can upload author’s books who ask me to “blurb/endorse” and that’s a plus!

    All around, I’m pleased with my Kindle and surprised how much it really does “read like a book,” but I still love a print book.

  8. I bought a Kindle this year, after trying out the software on my Mac. I love it when a publisher offers the first book in a trilogy for free, so I can try new authors. Often, I’m hooked, and plan to buy the rest. It’s a great marketing tool.

    I like to have the Kindle in my purse for moments when I end up waiting. I can read a book on the craft of writing, catch another chapter of a novel, or read (and critique) for a crit group member.

    My favorite thing is being able to load my own manuscript on the Kindle. My husband really wanted to read it, but disliked reading on the computer. This way, he feels a part of what I’m writing, even though he’s ‘techno-phobic’. Somehow, he’s managed the Kindle just fine.

    ~Debbie

  9. Yes, I’m among those who love print, love the feel of a book.

    But from a more practical standpoint — in my professional career as a designer, I’ve spent 20 years upgrading, backing up, fixing, and replacing computers, fighting with software and compatability and access to files.

    Books just work all the time.

    Though toting around a hardcover Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on a plane made me see some advantages. But, really, I’m maintaining two or three devices now, and don’t really want to deal with another.

  10. Kat, Debbie – Loading your own books to see what they look like “published.” Now see, I’d buy it for that purpose. Once I get an entire manuscript done, guess I’ll have to get one.

  11. I like holding paper products too. Also if you have small children you can’t let them handle electronics, even to look at pictures. Books are better for the young ones because it’s more stimulating, I would think.

  12. I agree on “books are better for the young ones.” Can’t cuddle with a Kindle.

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