I was just reading a story about the new Harry Potter website, Pottermore, on which all of the Potter books will be available for download as ebooks. J.K. Rowling had not previously allowed any of her works to be published as ebooks due to fear of piracy and wanting fans to experience the story on paper. Then something happened to change her mind. She actually read an e-book.
I just finished reading my first book in the e-format. I’d been avoiding it because I too, like Rowling, love paper and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to concentrate without knowing the specs of the book. The thickness, the scent, as well as the ability to underline at will. But after donating boxes upon boxes of old books to the library (see previous post Sentimental Fool) and thinking more critically about the e-book format (thanks to an old episode of Seinfeld), I decided I needed to try it. My verdict? Not bad, not bad at all.
I borrowed my husband’s Sony e-reader, which is a first generation device that did not emerge as one of the more popular e-readers. Still, my only complaints were the pages turned a bit slowly (I think it should be instantaneous) and the buttons for turning the pages, were not where I thought they should be (though it did have right and left hand options.) Reading the text was easy and the screen size was good (I had been concerned that it might be too small.) It was much easier to hold the e-reader and eat at the same time than it is to hold open a paperback while noshing, which is a big plus in my book (in my e-book?!?) I was able to bookmark the pages I wanted (no underline available on this edition) and now that I’m done with the book, I don’t have to find a place to store the actual, physical book. Hallelujah! A space-saver and a tree-hugger. Consider me a convert.
Technology can be hard to keep up with, and there will always be those who cling to the past. (Not me. Promise.) As soon as something becomes obsolete (like LPs), there is a resurgence of popularity for the technology among those who think things are cool BECAUSE they are obsolete. It was obvious to me even before I read the e-book that despite my reluctance, ebooks would be the way of the future. I don’t think paper books will be discontinued entirely. Like CDs, I think they will serve a certain purpose (hey I need something for Nick Hornby to sign), but the market for physical books will continue to wane. And I’m all for it. Onward and upward, to infinity and beyond.