Books & Movies

Forms of Reading and the Future

The publishing world is changing and I think it’s important for readers to keep up with technology and know the options available to them. Each form of “reading” has its pros and cons and in this post, I’m going to discuss my thoughts on them.

The Printed Book

For me, nothing beats the traditional printed book. It’s a solid object that I can hold in my hands. I can admire the cover, the new smell of its pages and I can sit comfortably anywhere I like and read to my heart’s content. I can use my favourite bookmark when I must put the book aside. And, when discussing the book with others (whilst reading or afterwards), I can flash the book in front of their eyes or lend it to them. It’s the form of reading that I prefer, because … well, I suppose it’s because it is the way I’ve always done my reading and I’m not really a person who embraces change.

However, the printed book does have its disadvantages. Some books are quite thick and heavy, so when you want to read whilst travelling, such as on a train, carrying a bulky book can be a bit of a nuisance (even if you do wear a back pack). And, what about when you are nearing the end of the book? What happens then? Who wants to carry two heavy books to and from work on the train, just in case the first book is finished and a new book is required? Not me, so I end up with nothing to read and the journey instantly feels a lot longer.

Finally, the price of printed books are going up, up, up. It’s actually becoming an issue for me to buy books new, as I simply cannot afford them any more. Therefore, I must rely on the library (and my local library is stuck in the dark ages so my chances of getting a new release is zilch) or second hand book shops (again, I have to wait a very long time to get anything new).

The Audio Book

The audio book is only a new experience for me, having only listened to one book … ever! But that one book left me with a knowledge that reading can be enjoyed without a physical book to look at.

In fact, I quite enjoyed listening to a book whilst leaning back in the seat with my eyes shut (resting them for a change) or whilst I quietly minded my own business and knitted. At the end of the book, I felt as if I had accomplished a lot, which was a good feeling.

Also, the mp3 player that I used is quite small and very light, so I hardly knew I was carrying a book. I only had the one book on the player, but I could have had several books, which would be handy upon reaching the end. It felt wonderful not to feel like a pack horse for those few days. Although, I did tend to load myself up with other things because I had extra room. 🙂

However, not being used to it, my ears suffered from the earphones. I’m not one for plugging music directly into my head, so my poor, tender ears felt the pain as they grew accustomed to foreign objects being in them. I also found myself wondering if the constant use of earphones (which I would have to use because I’m listening to the book in a public place) would cause permanent damage (much like constant computer use weakens the eyes).

The biggest disadvantage, I found, was that the mp3 player didn’t hold power for long. This might have been due to the fact that the player was an inexpensive one, but it runs off a single AAA battery with a life of about four to six hours. Remembering to charge it each evening was an issue, but I guess it would be something I’d soon get used to.

As for cost, the book I listened too came from the library, but from what I’ve seen, audio books are around the same price as printed books…and some were a lot dearer! I can understand the reason for this as a lot goes into them, but when finances are tight, this can be a big issue and I’ve rarely seen audio books in second hand shops. Having said this, there are audio books that can be freely downloaded if you know where to look…and by “freely” I am not talking about obtaining illegal versions.

The eBook

This is something I have never tried. I’ve always felt it was an option I wouldn’t entertain, until recently. Now, I find my thoughts wondering if this could truly be an option for me. I guess I’ll never know until I’ve tried it, but the readers are so expensive! What if I paid the money and discovered I hated it? It’s a shame I couldn’t borrow one for a trial period and see how I go with it first.

Ebooks are the way of the future. I realise that. It’s inevitable that “saving the planet” will force the issue and I’ve witnessed the change towards this option over recent years. I feel that when the readers are perfected (and cheaper) then there will be a sudden surge in ebook sales because out of all the options available to readers, ebooks are the cheapest. And so they should be! What’s more, most (if not all) of the proceeds from sales go directly to the author (which I think is how it should be too).

I’ve been doing some research on the readers and they do look interesting. However, our “in shop” experience is that we have been unable to find anywhere locally that sell them. That may have changed in recent months, but when G was thinking of getting himself one last year it was like we were asking for a piece of Mars or something. All we got were blank stares. We might give this another try soon to see how things have changed.

With an ebook reader, I could have several dozen (or ever several hundred) books with me at any given time. My research tells me that once charged, the power source will last approximately two weeks (or about 3,000 page turns). The reader is light and compact, which would suit my travelling needs too. The cost of books are much more within my reach too; and I wouldn’t be buying second hand which would mean the author would get their royalty.

The only disadvantage, that I can think of right now, is that I wouldn’t have a bookshelf filled with wonderful smelling books that would inspire me to read…and write. But, then again, I’d then have more space in the room to fill with something else instead, so it’s not all bad.

In Conclusion

I still love the old-fashioned book and I believe I will continue to favour this form of reading for some time to come, but I realise that the world is changing and at some point those books will become rare, collectible items (possibly even worth a bit of money, but I doubt that will be in my lifetime).

With my current situation, I believe the ebook would be the most financially friendly option for me, giving me lots to read at a reasonable price. It’s only the reader itself that would be a bit of a burden to me. I like the compact unit, but I’m not sure how I’d go reading a book on a small screen.

Even though I think audio books are expensive, I truly like the idea of reading and knitting at the same time. It’s one way of getting more out of my day.

In short, all forms of reading should have their place in all our lives. Why should we restrict ourselves to one or the other? If it wasn’t for the cost, I’d be happy to do all three…I think.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Forms of Reading and the Future”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot too. I’ve only read printed books and like you, have been waiting for those eReaders to arrive in Australia.

    The closest I’ve gotten to reading eBooks is Short Story magazines like Midnight Echo which is fine because you don’t spend that much time reading.
    .-= Benjamin Solah´s last blog ..Another Submission! =-.

  2. I wrote about this recently on my blog.

    http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/2009/08/30/ebooks-future.html

    My books sell really well as ebooks and I’ve recently got an iPhone, with one of the main reasons for getting it being to read ebooks.

    It’s definitely the way of the future, but “real” books won’t disappear. The comments on the post I’ve linked above raise some interesting perspectives too.
    .-= Alan´s last blog ..The days are getting shorter =-.

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