Tech Watch: E-Readers vs. Books

Category:  Tech Watch
Thursday, December 1st, 2011 at 11:00 AM
Tech Watch: E-Readers vs. Books by David Hunter, Epic Web Studios

I love to read books, especially in the winter. The warm feeling of curling up in the big chair next to the fire is pure bliss. Some of my best memories of the holiday season involve reading books with my family and friends. Regardless of what the media tells you, actual books are still important.

And yet….I’m a tech writer. This, obviously, is “Tech Watch.” And as such, I should probably be telling you that E-Readers, such as the Kindle and Nook, are the “next big thing,” and you should go out and buy them right now—even as Christmas gifts—since books are a thing of the past.

But I don’t plan on saying anything like that.

But wait, what exactly is an “E-Reader” for those still wondering. Let me explain. Remember when we used to play movies on cassette tapes and CDs? Then, some guy named Steve Jobs came along and invented some cool new thing called the iPod and on this device you could store thousands of songs and carry them all along with you wherever you went without the hassle of grabbing CDs or tapes and their cases and lugging them from the car to the house to the gym to the store to an evening walk. And the iPod revolutionized the music industry. Essentially, an E-Reader is just an iPod for books. You can download a digital copy of anything from “Harry Potter” to “The Wealth of Nations,” and take it with you wherever you go without the hassle of say, lugging bulky books from here to there.

But I’m not too impressed.

Sure, E-Readers bring a similar level of convenience to books that iPods brought to music since they offer users an incredibly efficient way of carrying around an entire bookcase’s worth of books in a very small package. My mom has a kindle and absolutely loves it. But please, please don’t try and argue that E-Readers are going to replace books. They won’t.

Why, you ask? Because even “Tech” people, like me, realize that there is something special about holding a book in your hand and turning the pages with your fingers. There is something rewarding in closing the back cover of a book you just finished. And, admittedly, it’s fun to carry around really big books (as long as you’re not walking very far). Inherently there’s a tech-less connection that we have to books that we didn’t have to CDs, tapes, and other means of recorded music. Nearly the same connection we’d have, say, to physically attending concert in person.

There are, regardless of what some may tell you, certain things that technology will or can never replace, since many activities and institutions in our culture leave far too much of an emotional imprint to give up on. There will always be people who shop on Black Friday, regardless of the fact that you can get virtually any of those deals online on Cyber Monday. There will always be people playing actual football during the Super Bowl, even though many of us have tried our hands at Madden on the Xbox. And there will always be libraries and books to read, even though E-Readers, like the Kindle and Nook, are out on the market.

They may be more efficient, but E-Readers will never be a “book” nor will they offer the same experience of curling up in an over-sized chair by the fireplace with a book in your lap.

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