Ebooks- Positive or Negative? I was recently given an Amazon Kindle as a gift. As a fan of paper books, especially used books, I find myself in a dilemma. I love the convenience of an e-book, but...

Ebooks- Positive or Negative?

I was recently given an Amazon Kindle as a gift. As a fan of paper books, especially used books, I find myself in a dilemma. I love the convenience of an e-book, but wonder if purchasing ebooks is going to kill an industry I love.

What do you all think? Is the e-reader the end of the bookstore, or is it just a new facet of literature?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ebooks are wonderful: you can purchase a book without leaving the house, it costs much less than a book, and it saves paper. However, I enjoy the tactile experience of holding a book, especially on a sand chair at the edge of the ocean, something I would never do with an electronic book.

I have been an avid reader for most of my life. I enjoy a bookshelf full of books, and with favorites, I will return and read them again when I want to visit "old friends." Then I let my finger wander over the spines of books on the shelves we have throughout the house until I find what I want. On the way, sometimes I notice other "old friends" that I remind myself to visit later.

My husband and I have both been teacher for many years; he has more readily embraced this new technology. He recently traveled abroad and took his iBook. For me, when I travel, I will take several books; when I finish, if it isn't something I want to save, I'll leave it in the seat pocket of an airplane or inside the bedside table of a hotel. It makes the trip home lighter, but I also feel like I leave a little bit of myself behind with good wishes that someone else might find the book and enjoy as I have.

As Thomas Jefferson said after selling his books to create the Library of Congress (and pay bills), "I cannot live without books."

jashley80 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

 I am a fan of the printed word... there is nothing like writing your notes in the margins, highlighting and underlining text, and dog-earring the pages of passages you love. That being said, I believe that e-books are useful and a wonderful way not only to spread and share books, but also to preserve them - e-texts promote preservation of texts by creating a market for literature and a demand for choices, therefore creating a demand to take texts possibly not often found in print (or popular in print) and conserving them electronically.

 I see the problems with e-books also, though, because many schools are considering switching to e-books for textbooks, yet not all students have access to computers (let alone the Internet) at home, and many schools (my own included) do not have student computers in the classrooms and rely on sharing time in labs teachers must sign up to use.

 I believe that there can be a nice equilibrium, but that many people will end up choosing one side or the other versus enjoying both worlds. My loyalty will always lie with the printed word, but I respect those who "modernize" to e-texts also... as long as it keeps society reading, I will respect and support that!

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My mother asked last Christmas if I'd like a Nook or Kindle as a gift.  I immediately scoffed at the thought of replacing books with a handheld device.

Then I held one.

I was surprised that the non-backlighting nature of each really does give a realistic feeling like you are reading off paper.  I also love how lightweight they are.  Ironically, I thought the idea of not seeing my progress (as in turning pages and bookmarking) would deter me from wanting to read more, but because they are small, lightweight, comfortable, I actually found myself reading more.

I don't own one yet, but I like them.  If public libraries could work something out (almost like Netflix), I'd join the movement in a minute.  I also agree with the idea of keeping several books in one convenient (and small) place.  I'm a person who is frequently in the middle of 3 or 4 books at a time.  What an easy way to keep things together.

sboeman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm sort of torn on the issue since, as others seem to be, I might consider myself a traditionalist.  I tell my students that I love the smell of books and libraries, to which they often scoff and think how weird I am (although some secretly tell me they like the smell too).

I would think it might depend on what I'm reading.  Kafka or Bronte on a computer screen?  Doesn't seem right to me; however, give me one of those modern dime-a-dozen mysteries that somehow top the charts and maybe I'll pick it up.

I'm currently Kindle- and iPad-free and happily intend to stay that way.  Of course, I said this about cell phones and digital cable too!  Gotta go - the game's on the widescreen HD and I have to text my brother!

martinjmurphy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I,too, was given an ereader as a gift and felt the same way.  I loved  books, could loan out books and have people loan me books.  I never thought I would be reading books on an electronic device.  I have found that now, I almost exclusively read on my e reader.  I can carry around practically an entire library. I don't have to go to a book store to buy a book.  (Though I still love going to bookstores to browse and when I find a good book, I will purchased it as an ebook and download it.)  I think eventually, very few books will be printed.  I'm not sure when that will happen, but it is coming.  So I say, enjoy your ereader because sooner or later everyone will have one.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My kindle was a gift, complete with a leather cover to help me keep the feel of a real book. (It doesn't really do the trick, but I appreciated the effort.) I love it for books that don't really matter to me, if you can understand that. I like to write in my books and become familiar enough with favorite passages that I can find them again without much effort. My kindle is difficult to use if I want to find something I read, so I simply choose carefully what I want to read on it. Right now I'm 68% finished with Moby Dick and I'm glad it's on my kindle so I don't have to haul a gigantic tome around with me.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, like the feel of a book in my hands and how I don't have to worry about things like battery life or system crashes, but I've been impressed with the iPad for visibility and size.  The Kindle and other electronic readers seems small to me and I like to read for long stretches at a time, so I can't bring myself to go there.  Bottom line is that I'm resistant to giving up physical books, but probably will on some level soon, or at least with pleasure reading.  I do like that eBooks give new authors a chance, but it remains to be seen if an author can really become well known and published based on just earlier works online.

howesk eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I like the Kindle's ability to search for a particular word or phrase, and the ease of bookmarking and commenting on particular passages. The first book I read on it was The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which I read for long stretches at a time. I found that the Kindle was easier on my eyes than text on a page.

Another connundrum I find myself in is, as an English Teacher, what books is it worth it to buy on the Kindle, and which should I buy in paper so that I can share them with future students? It's a tough dilemma; I've found myself really thinking about which books to purchase in which medium.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I only have a kindle rather than the fancier ipad. I have only had it for a couple of weeks so the jury is still out. I still love the feel of pages and turning them, and I am not too sure about the ease of finding a particular "page" with the kindle. Being a quick reader I also find the screen a little small so I am pressing the skip button very often - will I get a repetitive strain injury?! One thing I do like as someone who travels is the ease of carrying numerous books on one very small, thin object.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As long as technology is flawed, good, old fashioned paper books will survive.  I don't have a Kindle or any other reader...although I admit I'm drawn to the fact that I can carry one, small tool which has the ability to hold hundreds of books at my fingertips...but I have students who do.  One of them is always complaining that their reader isn't working properly or that the glare makes it difficult to read books in certain light, or some other tech issue that doesn't occur with paper books.

terryhi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I also believe that the old-fashion paper book will survive even if the fancy e-book becomes popular. Personally, I feel that I have read when I smell the paper in my hand. E-book has its own strength. It is small and light. A tablet or iPad can contain many e-book files, so this is more comfortable than carrying many books. However, I cannot focuse reading electronic materials. So, I do not think that paper book will be gone since people like me will continue buying paper books.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the content of the literature is way more important than the medium -- I don't see the medium being the message here.

I wonder if e-books might not actually help authors.  They say that fewer publishing houses are taking chances on new or edgy authors because so few people buy their books.  Well, with the lower costs associated with creating e-books, I wonder if a greater diversity of authors might see "print" with the coming of this new format.

psmortimer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a printer and former publisher as well as being a writer, I have a lot to say on this subject. I don't think printed media will ever go away completely as people seem to think it will. However, I do know that the publishing and printing industries have taken a pretty hard hit with ebooks and audio books. Although I am a big fan of audio books there is nothing quite like holding a book in my hands, particularly after looking at a computer screen all day!

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I wondered about the future of the printed book too, but you might be reassured by my conclusions. I figured that people said that when television came out, and probably when newspapers came out, yet books are still here. Think about it, for example, in terms of how easy it would be to give an e-book as a gift? I would rather choose a lovely book to wrap, so maybe other people would too?

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't believe the printed form of the written word will die out in our lifetime and, at least for the time being, these two forms should coexist nicely. As an English teacher, I believe that as long as students are willing to read--whether on a tablet, computer screen or book--we should be happy.