Access books in new format

Kiah Watson

By now I’m sure that it is popular knowledge that having an e-reader is an advantage to the college-aged student.

Almost all textbooks are available in the e-reader format and they’re cheaper, too; for students with mounting debt who need to be able to feed themselves, it is probably worth the expense.

Or is it? I haven’t decided yet. As an English writing major, I have severely mixed feelings about the e-reader. I’ve talked to other people, some even in the same field as me, who absolutely love this new bit of fancy electronics.

My friend says he’s been reading more than ever now that his entire library is on a handy little device that he can throw in his briefcase.

Real books are heavy, large and sometimes downright awkward to try to carry around.

Then you have those who are cheap—or just have no money—who appreciate all of the incredibly low-cost or even free books that have popped up thanks to the self-publishing market the e-reader introduced.

Websites like Amazon now have programs that let writers who can’t be or aren’t inclined to be published in the traditional way have their shot on e-readers.

The results include waves of books that may or may not be worth the read, but at least they’re inexpensive.

Although many people may have heard about the tough time the e-reader is giving the publishing industry, it’s not entirely true.

Traditionally published books still far outnumber e-books as far as profits and circulation at this time, but how long will the e-reader phenomena last?

Still, consider the experience of reading a book. Some curl up on the couch while others run a bath, soaking for hours with a paperback.

The weight of a book, their different sizes, the way that some are rough, cracked and old all adds to the appeal. Their physical attributes are half of their charm.

What about the ability to take your reading material with you wherever you go?

Those options are so much more precarious when the book you’re reading is on a device that can be ruined through sand and water. Trust me, books are much tougher.

In fact well-known authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett said something similar in the forward of a book they wrote together called “Good Omens.” They said, “Believe us: We have signed a delightfully large number of paperbacks that have been dropped in the bath, gone a worrying brown color, got repaired with sticky tape and string, and in one case, consisted entirely of loose pages in a plastic bag.” You can’t get an e-book signed.

If all of the world’s books are suddenly only available through one source, someone could change things at will. With no physical copies, no one will notice. I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s an issue to consider.

I appreciate and disdain the e-reader in different measures. I will always give thanks to anything that can influence people to read.

Reading is perhaps the most important thing in the world. If there are people who did not read before and have suddenly discovered an e-book, then good for them.

For me, there will never be anything but a book.