Traditional Books vs E Reader Devices - The Pros & Cons
Reading is one of the most common hobbies in the world. It's a basic skill that most of us can do, and that many of us enjoy. But a revolution is taking place in the world of books, and of all print media to be honest. The advent of the e-reader means that more and more people are choosing to turn away from printed media. Today we're talking about e-readers and how they've affected the print market. So, if you're a paperback lover, read on...
What is an E-Reader?
An e-reader is an electronic device that you use for reading books. The most common model is the Amazon Kindle, a best-selling device that allows users to download books direct from Kindle. However, there are many other models available from Sony, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and all kinds of other outlets. How it basically works is that you buy a paperback from an online retail outlet, such as Amazon, and you then immediately receive an electronic version of that book. You either receive the book direct to your device using WiFi or 3G, or to your computer meaning that you plug your e-reader into a USB port and transfer the book across.
What Benefits Do They Have?
The main benefit of an e-reader for most people is the sheer amount of books they can hold. Depending on how much memory the device you buy has you can store thousands of books on something that's the size of a small paperback, but that's lighter and thinner than a regular paperbacks. Going on holiday? Not a problem, you can take your entire library with you. E-readers allow you to travel wherever you want with all the books you could ever want to read.
The Effect on the Book Market
Given that most avid readers now own some kind of e-reading device, obviously the sale of physical books is waning. Book stores are going out of business, even Barnes and Noble being hit by poor sales and declaring bankruptcy. Does this mean that people are reading less? Not at all. In fact, all signs point towards the fact that people are actually reading a lot more, since books are now more accessible. Some sources, like the New York Times Best Seller List has started to include electronic book sales in their rankings, since e-books now make up such a huge percentage of the books that we buy, and in order to fairly represent which books are selling well the list has to include ebooks.
And Other Printed Media
E-readers are also having somewhat of an effect on other printed media forms. Newspapers have been in steady decline since more and more people have begun getting their news from internet sources. And yet many major newspapers sell e-reader subscriptions that you can have delivered daily to your device. Many magazines are also turning to electronic issues. In fact, quite ironically, e-readers may be helping to save the newspaper and magazine market at least a little. People are turning away from print media, but publishing electronic issues is helping struggling newspapers and magazines to once again increase circulation.
Not Just E-readers
However, people aren't just reading electronic books on e-readers, although an e-reader is the most convenient way to read. Anyone with a regular internet connection can access ebooks. The average Joe with his Post Office home phone and broadband plan uses his internet connection to download free or cheap electronic books even if he doesn't have an e-reader. He then uses special software (Kindle has both a desk top version and a phone app of its software) to read the book he's downloaded from his computer, tablet or phone. Why? Quite simply because of price. And price is what's really driving this revolution. Ebooks are cheap, generally much cheaper than regular books, and sometimes even free.
Why Ebooks are So Cheap....
At the heart of the book-world there has always been the huge and profitable publishing industry. The reason books cost as much as they do is that the publishing industry helps to set prices and then needs to take its cut of the profits. So what happens if you cut out the middle man? Prices obviously fall, and that's exactly what's happening. More and more writers are turning to self-publishing, using forums like Amazon's easy to use (and free) self-publishing system to get their books onto the market. No agent, no editor, no publisher. And that means that authors set their own prices and don't need to split their profits- though Amazon takes a small piece of the pie. As a consumer, that means books are even cheaper than ever before. And as these cheap books take off and become big sellers, publishers are starting to cut their prices to in order to compete.
Are E-readers Really that Great?
The truth is that e-readers are an amazing technological development. They're light, easy to use and carry thousands of books. Not only that, they have many other advantages too. Most e-readers use special displays that don't have back lights, meaning that they don't strain your eyes in the same manner as computer screens do when you stare at them for hours. You can write notes on an ebook and bookmark pages, just as you would in a normal novel. You can search for information quickly and easily within the book itself. Don't know what a word means? Simply move a cursor to the word in question and get an immediate definition. And it does seem that despite falling sales of traditional books, e-readers are making more people read. Whether that's because they're so convenient or simply because they're cool doesn't really matter, what does matter is that books aren't dead, simply reincarnated. Amazon's Kindle has sold millions of devices. A basic Kindle will cost you about the same as six or seven paperback books. But you then get to buy cheaper ebooks, so the Kindle earns its price back pretty quickly. The only thing it can't do? A Kindle doesn't quite smell like a book. At least, not yet.