Some light reading

My ‘To Read’ dead tree pile.

I had a few books arrive today. If you don’t have regular arrivals then the pile pictured above dwindles suddenly and before you know it you don’t have anything to read. Suddenly you are desperate for another hit and turn towards the cereal box and the DVD instructions booklet. Fortunately I have 120 or so books to read on my e-reader as well. But after the books pictured above, and the books on my e-reader, I’ll have no books left to read!

Yes, despite being a fan of e-books, I am still a fan of dead trees. I have many fond memories of dead trees. The time I used one to level a table with an uneven leg. The time I threw one at the TV for showing “CSI: Miami” instead of “Burn Notice”. The time I used a bag full of them to prop open a door with a hydraulic hinge. Good times. For the people that haven’t gotten on board of the e-book I thought that I would run through the pros and cons of each.

Dead Tree Pros:

  • They are a book.
  • You can read them.
  • They make you look smart/nerdy when you have lots of shelves of them.

Dead Tree Cons:

  • Being a physical entity they have to be physically moved to your house.
  • Generally more expensive than an e-book.
  • Can’t stop a .45 slug, despite claims to the contrary.

E-book Pros:

  • They are a book.
  • You can read them.
  • When you want another you just download it.
  • Everyone thinks you are reading the latest political biography when you are really engrossed in the love triangle between a teenage girl, a 100 year old pedophile, and a smelly dog (yes I got dragged to the Twilight films by my wife).
  • Text can be resized.

E-book Cons:

  • E-books can’t be used to start a fire in a life threatening situation.
  • E-book files won’t be forever, but the database will be, which means updating your collection.
  • E-readers cost money too.
  • E-readers are even less likely to stop a .45 slug.

What is my key point out of all of this? Well if you like reading you will like both ebooks and dead trees. I can see ebooks replacing a large proportion of the book market in the near future, quite simply because buying (or borrowing) another book is quicker using your ereader. No longer will you have to wait for parcels to arrive in the mail. No longer will you have to travel to a store. No longer will you have to smell the vagrants that camp at the local library. No longer will you have to pray that the store or library actually has the book you are looking for in stock.

The cost of the e-reader is a point which needs considering. Eventually this cost will come down as the technology advances. E-readers are also a great platform and I don’t think that they can be a multi-task tool, unless the battery life and screens can provide a perfunctory reading experience. The marriage of the e-book and e-reader with e-stores may constitute polygamy, but it does result in a great convenience for readers all around the world.

Points to consider with ereaders:

  • LCD screens chew batteries and are just another computer screen.
  • E-ink is like normal dead tree text, has long battery life, even if page turns are a little slow.
  • Screen size has to be roughly book size, unless you enjoy squinting like Clint Eastwood.
  • Pdf’s are not a good format for reading, they are only really made in one size, screens are not.
  • Do you read a lot and want to have a separate e-reader or an all-in-one toy like a tablet?
  • Weight is a big deal. Anything more than a few hundred grams is going to feel heavy if you read for more than 10-20 minutes.

The basic summary of all these points is that the more you read the more you will want an exclusive e-reader. This is true even if you like dead trees. In fact, every person I have met who has made the change has commented that they were unsure until they got one, then they love e-readers and will never go without one again.

I love books in all their forms, you should too.

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