Sales for e-books now make up about a quarter of the book market. That’s huge. The market share is increasing and it shows no sign of slowing down as time progresses. E-readers, quite clearly, are becoming an important part of the future of the “book” as we know it. While I enjoy my Kindle and all that it entails, a large group of people remain on the fence or are staunchly opposed to the advance of the digital text.
In an effort to bridge the digital divide, I have made a list!
Reasons to Embrace the E-Reader
- No more trips to the store. Do you want a book? Turn on your device and download it. Simple! As much as I love a good bookstore, I love the convenience of instant gratification more.“Aha!” you say, thrilled with the discovery of the blog author’s fatal flaw, “you are nothing more than a product of the digital age — you are a seeker of instant gratification! Instant coffee. Instant meal. Instant movie. Instant life! How can you forsake the traditional bookstore and its steadfast business owners and employees for a cold piece of machinery?”
Look, I get it. Change is hard… and, in this case, it is particularly hard on the classic bookstores around the country. Progress, however, inevitably causes casualties along its path into the future. What is the point of a bookstore if a better alternative exists? Although it is a classically romantic notion to read a physical book, the physicality of the book does not make the reading of “the book” a worthwhile enterprise — it is the content of and the act found within the action that makes it worthwhile. In the end, the physical copy of any book is only a thing.
- It is fiercely convenient. Most dedicated e-readers now weigh less than a mass market paperback. That’s nice. They’re small, sturdy, and they can even fit inside a large pocket if need be (and I constantly find the need). I have over three hundred books currently loaded onto my Kindle, my PC, as well as on my cell phone. It feels very liberating to carry my entire digital library around with me wherever I go. If I need to look up a quote or if I simply decide to read something else (you know the feeling), then I have that capability. I don’t have to dig through shelves or shelves to find just the right fit.
- It is easier to read than a real book. Bear with me here. I currently use a Kindle Paperwhite for my e-books needs. It has a backlit screen that glows (based on whatever intensity the user desires) through the e-ink display. This innovation renders the need for a glaring booklight completely nonexistent. That’s not an insignificant change.The ability to turn a page with one hand also increases the usability of the e-reader over a physical book. If I am reading a “real” book in a chilly environment, for example, I quickly find one or more hand becoming quite cold! A one-handed book reading experience is the better experience. (Yes, I know … #firstworldproblem … No shame.)
Adjustable font size on the fly? Changeable typefaces? Custom highlights for notable passages that can be shared or stored? Sign me up.
- E-Books have become an amazing platform for aspiring authors as well as for authors who wish to divorce themselves from the classic publishing market. Case Study: Hugh Howey (Author of Wool)
Howey first began the series in 2011, initially writing Wool as a stand-alone short story. He published the work through Amazon’sKindle Direct Publishing system, choosing to do so due to the freedom of self-publishing. After the series grew in popularity, he began to write more entries for it. Howey began soliciting international rights in 2012; Brazil has been one win. Film rights to the series were sold to 20th Century Fox, with Lionsgate also expressing interest.
Howey recently signed a print-only deal for in the neighborhood of a half million dollars with Simon and Schuster to distribute Wool to book retailers across the US and Canada. Unusually, Howey retains full rights to continue distributing Wool online himself
Howey’s rise to fame came as a direct result of the shifting authorship paradigm that has been created through the introduction of e-books into the mass market. Now, if you were to traipse over to the Kindle Store to check out the cheapest books to download, you would see countless pieces of fiction and non-fiction from independent authors looking to make a mark in the literary world through their own means.
No matter your opinion of the rise of the e-book, it has to be acknowledged that it has been a positive experience for new authors struggling to break into the caustic publishing world.
In the end, I know that I’ll never really convince those who are staunch traditionalists to switch to an e-reader. They are a divisive device (Har!). All I wish is that they are viewed with, at the least, a fair amount of criticism. If you wish to hold onto the physical realm of the book, feel free to do so! Do not, however, castigate the digital version unfairly in your quest to maintain the status quo. A book, in the end, is primarily experiential.
If people are reading, does it really matter how the content is engaged?