E is for electronic reading - I love my Kindle(s)

Author: Anne

Date Published: May 17th 2017, 9:39pm


Last year about half my reading was done electronically and that pattern appears to be continuing this year - this republished blog still seems to reflect the situation as I see it.

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There are people around who swear that once upon a time I said that I would never buy an e-reader because of my love for paper books. I am sure that I never said this but even if I did my opinion changed completely the day that I got my first Kindle. I have been an enthusiast for electronic reading ever since.

Whether or not you have succumbed to the lure of electronic reading you cannot deny that it has changed the reading world and every month or so there seems to be an innovation which adds a new twist to things. Reading and book owning is not what it was and there is now the potential for it to be even more exciting.

I’m not at the forefront of all that is happening in the book and publishing world but I have noticed how the advances in technology have affected my own reading life – at least two thirds of my reading now is electronic.

I adore my Kindle (or to be accurate, Kindles, as I have more than one). I carry one in my bag when I am out and read a lot of new material that way. I love how light it is, how I can read it in the dark or reduced light, and also the fact that I can download and buy books at almost any time in any place. I do recognise the fact, however, that in the last year or so the emphasis in the electronic market has switched from a dedicated e-reader to the ability to download a free app onto whatever electronic device you already use and to read from that. The man who shares my life has the Kindle app on his tablet and reads books on that and I have even downloaded it myself onto my mobile phone and have read some books that way on occasions when I am without Kindle. You can even switch from one device to another and open the book at the same page ! I prefer the dedicated e-reader with its e-ink as I find it much easier to read a book that way than on a backlit screen, but each to their own !

The advent of electronic reading has made a difference in the books that are available. Digital printing has encouraged a lot of new authors into relatively cheap self-publishing. I’ve read a lot of these books and they range from the excellent to the execrable. For prospective authors this is an easy access way to have your book published although it brings with it a responsibility for your own promotion and marketing which many find onerous and unrewarding. Older books which are uneconomic to print have started appearing as digital versions – I have been delighted to see some old favourites available this way. Classics are now available free or at very low cost as well which has certainly encouraged me to reread some childhood favourites. The number of books available at low cost and at the touch of a button has been one of the greatest advantages to me of the electronic reading boom.

I’m not a listener of audiobooks although I am someone who frequently says that they will start but the electronic revolution has affected them too. You can often buy a cheap audio version if you have bought the digital book and you can synch the two together so that finish reading, get into the car and start listening at exactly the place that you left off. I haven’t tried this but it is a brilliant idea.

I have been amused, however, at how some of the things which were predicted to happen with this new technology haven’t. The whole idea of the interactive book where you link to associated webpages and games, etc, whilst reading has had only limited success although quite a few printed textbooks now have a code issued with them to allow you to access additional material and even videos online. The physical print book market has not collapsed completely as predicted.

I do think, however, that the main impact of electronic reading is how we think of books. We have stopped regarding them so much as a discrete product which we either own or don’t own. If you buy a book digitally you only license it and that licence ceases with your death. You can’t easily lend it and you certainly don’t get the same satisfaction from owning it as you would if it were obviously on show on your bookshelves. There is an increasing number of subscription services being created which allow you to pay a sum of money and then access whichever books you want (a lending library but with fees). I don’t foresee the printed book market changing substantially in the future but alongside it has grown this very different electronic world – I suspect that most readers will be part of both.


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