Last week I wrote a post about the new Kindle Fire I had gotten. Since then, it turns out my college son has won a Fire in a school auction making us a two Fire family and I’ve got to say, we couldn’t be happier. We are now able to share our electronic library, he at college, me at my office. There is no longer any geographical distance or time constraints on what we read and pass on.
I’ve continued to read books on my Fire and watch movies. (Cowboys and Aliens, le sigh) and even my husband has gotten into the act and has watched all three of the Dragon Girl European movies. Although he admits that his tablet now feels heavy, he is in agreement that the Fire should be considered a personal entertainment device and not something on which to do work.
It’s small, portable, easy to use, and literally gives me any book at the touch of a screen. What’s not to like, right?
Except that if you followed the conversation under the post, you’d see that actually there are a few things not to like about the Fire (more accurately e-readers in general.)
The first point raised was that a hard copy books feels good in your hands. Those of us who are readers know where this argument is going. There is a sensual quality to holding the story, in being able to quickly flip back a few pages, and in opening a book to the last page you were on without having to press a button first and wait for the system to turn on.
I get it, trust me, I get it. I have a few thousand books in my house (no lie) I’m right up there with you about liking the feel.
But I also know that the more I use an e-reader, the more I get used to reading from it. Holding the book doesn’t mean as much as it used to. The cover I have (Marware Jurni) opens up like a book, it’s a similar sensation. I’m not sure if I’m just getting used to the e-reader or if the feel part of a book, really wasn’t that important after all.
Bottom line is the more I use my Fire, the weaker that old “in my hands” argument becomes.
Another point was that with e-readers, local independent bookstores will most likely go out of business.
That one I can’t argue, it’s true, local small book shops might be a thing of the past, like the local butcher (um, even large bookstores are a thing of the past, Borders, anyone?) Times change, media changes, there are very few out there using 8-track cassettes anymore, we’ve moved on. Sure I’ll mourn the passing of small bookstores but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the “indie” author voices won’t get heard. With the ability to download a book file at a cost of roughly 1/3 that of a hard copy book, chances are I am going to be reading a lot more books than I would normally. That means I’m going to be supporting a lot more authors.
There is a chance, that e-readers will get authors’ books out to many more people than if they were solely found on an independent bookstores shelves. My guess is that e-readers are going to be the best friends of up and coming authors.
Lastly, the point was raised that e-readers contain plastics ,metals, and chemicals and are actually horrible for the environment when disposed. And while that may be a valid point, once purchased, the e-reader could potentially help to lessen the direct impact publishing has on the environment. After all, if you follow the life of a book, someone has to print it, drive the trucks that deliver it, and create the advertising that promotes it. Take the entire Harry Potter series, the trees, the travel, the fuel used to transport. Harry made more than just a literary impact.
Although books are recyclable, as thekalechronicles pointed out, I have yet to ever recycle a book, other than to donate books to Senior Centers or the Goodwill. Those of us who love books rarely send them off to the recycle center. It would just break our hearts in half. As one who reads up to three books a week, this drug of choice of mine can over time end up having a significant impact on the environment – the Fire can certainly help to ease that load.
Look, I’m not a techie. I hate the fact that every time I get a new phone I have to get a newer version (complete with new functionality.) Why can’t I just get what I had? I tend to like things the way they are.
To a degree.
But, when I look at my kids, the writing is clearly on the wall (or in the case, in the e-reader) this is a new generation of kids who are learning to read off of computers. Although they are willing to gobble up everything on a subject (including all relevant books), they have absolutely no interest in buying books at the bookstore. Why waste the time in travel and browsing haphazardly filled shelves when you can do a quick electronic search and immediately find what you need?
“Geesh, get with the times mom.”
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).
All I want for Christmas is an Amazon gift card.
Photo credit: AlishaV