Ereaders and Ebooks---ho, ho, ho!
Last Christmas, the ereader and ebooks erupted in earnest into the share of holiday spending. This past August ebooks were up 116% while hardback and paperback sales dropped. The steady advances in new and improved ereaders have definitely grabbed the avid bibliophile as well as ignite a fire under people who haven’t read anything much since high school.
This holiday season will most likely see ereaders and ebooks under many people’s tree. If you are considering an ereader, it is important to research the various models. When you look at all the types of ereaders, one important question should be at the top of the list: Where do you like to read? I pose this question because the lighting where you do most of your reading makes a significant difference in the ereader you should pick. There are basically two types of ereaders; ones that use e-ink technology and those that use a backlighting approach much like a computer screen. The one major drawback of the e-ink readers is that if one likes to read in bed, they will still need a book light. On the plus side for the e-ink readers, the page looks like paper and professes to do better outside in a bright setting because the page displays better. So if you like to read sitting on the beach, an ereader with e-ink would be right for you. (However, I’m not sure the prospect of sand getting into the device would be a good idea.)
Of course, there is the matter of cost. Currently, the price range for an ereader ranges from about $79 to $499. Amazon’s Kindle has seen a steady decline in the price from its 2007 debut $399 price tag. One can now purchase a basic Kindle model for about $79.
Another important point to consider is the versatility of the ereader. A basic Kindle ereader is just that, an ereader only. If you just want a device to serve only as a means to read from, then the Kindle would do well. Other types of ereaders go beyond just reading books. The Kindle Fire, the color Nook, and any tablet such as the Apple iPad are full of apps for watching movies, writing emails, playing games, displaying photos, etc.
When my first book, Milford Spitz and the Very Fast Machine, was scheduled for publication as an ebook (SynergEbooks.com), I thought it important to jump into reading on an electronic device. I went with the iPod Touch for several reasons. What I really like is the portability of the device. It’s in my pocket most of the time, ready to be pulled out to read. I especially like it’s small design, fitting easily in my hand. I no longer have difficulty reading in bed. I flip the pages with the touch of my thumb. It also allows me to switch from white background and black lettering to the opposite so that the light coming from the device is diminished. Then there are all the apps! I can even check my email in bed in the middle of the night, which I’ve come to realize, is not a great idea.
The first ebook was born in 1971 with Michael S. Hart typing the United States Declaration of Independence into a computer. From there, Project Gutenberg began. Jump forward to July 2010. Amazon reported that ebook sales surpassed hardcover and by January 2011 they exceeded paperback books. The small independent book publisher excelled early in making use of the ebook format, making their catalogues readily available at various on-line ebook sellers. The traditional publishing industry and the large publishing houses have had to go through a huge transformation, much like the recording industry did. There was a time when I would go into Best Buy to purchase a CD, and there would be rows and rows of CDs. Now with most people buying their music digitally on-line, the offering at stores is much less. The same kind of thing is currently happening to the publishing industry.
There are still folks who bemoan the passing of the book that they can hold in their hand. They like the feel of the weight of the book (unless it’s a Stephen King tome which by the way provides a benefit to your upper body workout), and they like the smell of the paper (these are the same folks who probably sniffed the mimeograph page handed out by the teacher back in elementary school). When the music industry switched from LP albums to CDs, there were people who missed the great cover art and the sound of the LP record. Personally, I found it a relief not to hear scratching and pops, or having my album skip even when brand new.
With the music industry, there has been a steady evolution in how we listen to our music over the past hundred years or so with each new method an improvement in quality. The publishing industry has had the same basic delivery of the printed word since around 1440 with the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg—printed-paper in book format. Ebooks and ereaders are just the next step in how we read. The publishing world is in a whirlwind of change. The ebook format currently is in many formats. I suspect eventually there will be one format to rise above the others much like we saw with beta and vhs in the video industry. As for ereaders, they too are constantly improving and evolving.
Once you have your ereader getting the ebook is generally pretty simple. One usually has to register with the provider, pay with a credit card, and then download the book directly to your device. Having an Amazon account allows you to purchase with one click and then it goes to your device. I especially like the Amazon app for reading because where ever I stop reading on my iPod touch, it picks up from that point if I read on my computer. Very magical and a tad creepy!!! There are a myriad of sources for ebooks. Besides getting it directly from the publisher, one can also shop on-line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Fictionwise, Books on Board, Apple, etc.
If you are new to ereaders and ebooks and need some guidance, there are a lot of sources on the web to help you. Just google ereader or ebooks, there are tons of sources. Of course, you can always email me at: email@example.com. I’d love to help as well as point you in the direction of some excellent small independent publishers such as SynergEbooks and Imajin Books. And of course, check out my books!!