Kindle Comparison
Credit: kodomut on Flickr

Many of the people I know, after doing the traditional books vs kindle comparison, have decided to stop using traditional books and media completely.  I mean, think of all the benefits of a kindle or an ereader:

-No more big, heavy books to lug around

-you can have all the books you'd ever want right with you in your bag or car, weighing only a couple of ounces and readily available at the click of a button

-the kindle books are usually cheaper to purchase than the regular books at the bookstore

-there are many free kindle books available for download on at all times

-you can get many e-books for free at your library website.  If you have trouble figuring this out, just ask your librarian.


But does this mean the end of books as we know it?

Frankly, it is difficult for me to imagine a world without books, magazines and newspapers in printed form. Even though people try and present the paperless trend as some sort of “save the world” green thing,  I just don’t think that going completely paperless is ever going to happen.  I believe the only way that would happen is in some sort of post-apocalyptic society where all the books have been burned, like in the movie Eli.  However, if it did happen, I believe that it would have a negative impact on society.  Many people simply do not have the resources to have an e-reader, and many do not even have a computer, which would make going paperless impossible.  We, as a society, just are not “there” yet in terms of technology to go completely paperless.

e-reader- a replacement for books?
Credit: goXunureviews on Flickr

Most of the current paperless trend in our society is driven by profits.  Of course energy companies want you to sign up for “paperless billing”, and it’s not because they care about the environment.  That is one less bill for them to print and pay to mail. The same can be said for the claim that the e-reader trend is “green.”  I just don’t buy it.  In the article Paper vs. Electronic - the Green Reading Debate, the conclusion is drawn that “while the e-reader provides a narrow margin of ecological benefit over new books, all participants in this argument agree on one thing: the greenest choice is a reused book.”  [1]  The same goes for all these “green” cars and new houses with “bamboo floors” that they are making.  It would be greener just to buy a used one!

But obviously, everybody loves a new gadget, and with all the choices available for types of kindles, it makes it hard not to want to jump on the ereader bandwagon. 

One of the downsides that I can see to getting e-books exclusively as opposed to traditional books is that you will be spending a lot more compared to using the library.  While the library does have a decent selection of ebooks available to "check out" or borrow online, it doesn't even come close to approaching the selection of traditional media that is available for borrowing.  Magazines, dvds, books, kids books, etc.. But if you are not a big library user, or an irresponsilble one that amasses tons of late fees, than the kindle will actually save money!

That being said, I do have a Kindle and I really like it.  But it has it’s limits.  The Kindle and other such devices are more a gadget for the book lover rather than a replacement for books. Once you have bought the book, you cannot resell it or give it away when you are done, and you don’t really “own” it anyway. Also, craft books with patterns, and any book that is heavy on images does not work well with an e-reader.

As stated earlier, however, there are some positives to the e-reader trend, which is why, as an avid reader, I own one.  The first advantage to the e-reader is obvious; you can carry many more books with you in a much smaller package.  This was why I bought my Kindle.  I read a lot and I like to have several books going at once, so the Kindle is very convenient to me.  The other advantage to the Kindle is that you can purchase the books at a lower cost than the printed book, and many books that would have cost money to buy in a printed form are free, either for a limited time or permanently due to being a “classic.”  It is true that you cannot give away or sell the books after you have bought them, but you can lend them out digitally to a friend for free.  I have saved a lot of money purchasing books at a reduced cost or getting them for free.

So if and when you do decide to take the plunge and get a kindle, not only should you consider the regular ones in your kindle comparison, but now there is the Kindle Fire.  I have had a regular ereader and a Kindle Fire and both have their pros and cons.

The kindle fire is really more like a tablet computer with an ereader platform.  It has a regular backlit computer-type screen, and you can surf the web and play games with all the apps available.  That being said, if reading on a computer screen that is backlit give you eye strain, than the kindle fire is likely not for you.  The screen can cause eye fatigue and soreness if you are sensitive to that kind of thing.

Get your books while you can, cause they're going the way of the caveman!

Overall, it seems like the benefits of digital books outweigh those of traditional media for modern families.  Hopefully this will not mean the total end of books as we know it, because there is still something so satisfying about bookmarks and dog ears, and slamming that book shut after you've finished a particularly good read.

But if you are a book lover, I think the kindle is a great gadget for you.