I want to preface this post by admitting that I’ve always been a bit of a technophobe. I didn’t start my DVD collection until 2006. My younger sister had to teach me how to use Facebook. I’ve only started using the wi-fi on my laptop in the past six months (and it took me far longer than it should have to work out how to connect it!!) I still don’t know how to access the internet on my smartphone.
With all that in mind it’s not hard to see why I’ve been resistant to the idea of e-books…why should I delve into the world of yet more confusing technology when I can pick a physical book up off the shelf?
It’s my birthday in a bit over a week, so I thought just for fun, I’d look into e-readers. I’m more confused now than I was before I started researching! Here are a few of the things that have blown my mind…
File types and how to load them
I had no idea that different e-readers support different file types. Turns out if you buy a Kindle you are limiting yourself to only books available on Amazon. Some e-readers won’t display PDFs properly. Some e-readers need to be synched with your computer and others can connect directly to online retailers by wi-fi or 3G. And don’t get me started on the apps required to support the files. For someone like me this will take some digesting.
The varied cost of e-books
Some websites offer free e-books (particularly the classics and anything that’s in the public domain). Other e-books can cost as much as buying a physical book. This doesn’t make much sense to me, as surely the expenses involved in printing and distributing a physical copy have been eliminated almost completely. Unless someone can assure me that the bulk of the saving is going into the author’s pocket, I’ll only be buying e-books that are much cheaper than the physical book.
My biggest question about e-readers has always been, how do you mark your place between sessions? Apparently some e-readers allow you not only to mark your place, but to write notes as well! Who knew?? Some come with inbuilt dictionaries (which might actually be useful), MP3 players, voice recorders, picture galleries, video apps…all of which asks the question, at what point are you better off buying a tablet? It has been noted by many reviewers that tablets use back lighting that can be hard on the eyes after extended periods, whilst e-readers are designed to be read for longer stints. For me the decision comes down to cost and the fact that if I had a tablet I’d probably spend too much time on the internet instead of reading…
Assuming I can afford it, I’ll probably be caving in and buying an e-reader in the near future. I’ll probably start out by loading it with free copies of books that I’d love to read, but I’m not sure I’ll love, classics by authors such as Homer, Henry James, Victor Hugo etc. I might add a few favorites that I currently have in massive inconvenient hardback volumes, like Shakespeare and Jane Austen. Gradually I might even start buying a few newer books. I would like to make it known though…I have no intention of letting an e-reader take over from the stacks of paper and hardback books on my shelves!