Monday, 1 February 2010

Books Vs E-Readers - The Benefits of E-Readers

As an avid reader, i can think of lots of benefits that an e-reader would provide:

Backup - While i am sure a physical book is more robust overall than an e-reader, books are vulnerable - in a very permanent way - to fire, water, loss, theft, wear and tear. An e-book can be backed up and re-downloaded should the worst happen. 

Portability - Books are heavy. As someone who had to ship 25kg (a years worth) of books from Australia to the UK, life would have been much easier if they were all on an e-reader or in the cloud. There may be some battery life issues in terms of portability, but physically an e-reader is far more portable. This also applies to travel, i normally carry 4 books in my hand luggage and a couple in my hold luggage, a total of around 3kg's. If i had an e-reader, i would only need to carry 1 book (for emergencies) along with the e-reader.

Multi-function - A book just does one very specific thing, you can't browse the web, watch a film or listen to music using a book. Really this is just additional portability beyond books, removing the need for other devices. 

Searchability - I don't know whether this is a current feature, but how useful would it be to be able to search every book in your library from one place? In the past i tried to setup a system of note-taking and blog posts, to make some of the books i had read searchable. It failed for a number of reasons, most notably; there was a lot of effort required to take notes and the fact that what seems important to note at the time, may not be what you are looking for in the future. Having a global search of your books would be seriously useful. 

Cashflow Optimisation - I currently buy books in batches and they can sit on my shelf for weeks, months or in some cases years. With an e-reader, i could just queue up books i want in my saved items and only buy them once i was ready to read them. With physical books, you never know when the mood to read a particular one will strike, so i keep a few on hand 'just in case'. By purchasing on-demand when i was ready to read a book, i would save a considerable amount of cash sitting on the shelf unused. 

Availability - There will no longer be any need to worry if a book is in print, or whether it needs to be shipped from the states. Print runs will cease to have any meaning, as once a book is written it can be distributed electronically an infinite number of times. Also the lead time to anywhere with an internet connection shrinks to minutes rather than days or weeks.

Condition - Most books end up in worse condition after repeat reading and i am a little anal-retentive about keeping my books in top shape. No more worrying about cracked spines, or people folding over pages or tears or sweat from my fingers. An e-book is always in pristine condition.

There are probably some positives i have forgotten, so if you think of any please comment. Unfortunately there are also some significant issues with e-books, which will be discussed on Wednesday.

Books Vs E-Readers Series
2 - The Benefits of E-Readers

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