Ever since eBooks were introduced to the public, the debate of how they are compared to actual books started and even now with their continuing popularity the comparison continues. The question lingers, are eBooks going to make books eventually obsolete?
The number one advantage of reading eBooks, or having an eBook reader such as ipads or any other tablet pcs, is the inherent portability of the medium. Students don’t have to carry around heavy bags full of textbooks. Travelers find an easy solution to space and weight issues. Most of the time you are just limited to carry two to three books when on holiday, but with an eBook reader, you can have as many books as you want to leisurely read during your vacation. However, actual books don’t need power to function compared to the six to eight hours of battery life from an eBook reader.
Most eBook readers now have internet connectivity, which means that you can easily purchase or borrow eBooks in seconds. You can basically have some books to read in mind and then have them in your hands almost instantaneously without having to leave your bed. The ease of owning eBooks though is countered by how you can easily lose them. Note that there have been news of Kindle users whose books were all wiped out by Amazon.
The issue of cost or savings has been pointed out but it is actually relative to a person if this is a pro or a con. An eBook reader may have a one-time payment investment of a few hundred dollars but in the long run it could pay for itself. There are hundreds of free eBooks, which spells savings especially for avid readers of the classics, for example. However, you can’t sell this point to those who love hunting for cheap books at second hand bookshops or those who like going to the library and borrow books. Also, as some readers have discovered, dropping, scratching the cover, or spilling coffee on a book is not as painful on your pocket as it would be on an eBook.
Another boon from eBooks is that the industry has opened up new avenues for creating and distribution of books and ideas, much like the way how mp3 files and players have altered the landscape of the music industry. However, actual books won’t go the way of cassettes or CDs though. Unlike CDs and cassettes that need a specific player for you to hear the music recorded in them, you don’t need another device to enjoy a book.
An actual book can be read in direct sunlight or at high noon. Compare reading an actual book while sunning yourself on the beach versus an eBook – which one is gentler on your eyes? Manufacturers have come up with an answer to this as eBooks have certain features to avoid eye strain such as zoom in and font resizing functions. In this case, this could be a matter of preference.
Lastly, reading eBooks is said to be more environmentally friendly as no trees were killed in their creation. However, eBooks do contribute to e-waste. Just like most of the consumer electronics we have now, eBooks may also fall victim to planned obsolescence. This means that no matter how you take care of it, your eBook reader may still end in the trash bin in a few years when it will not be able to read new eBook files or formats.