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Most book lovers appreciate, if not prefer, the print format, if only for the corporeal pleasures of leafing through the pages, which you can also physically mark with a pen if you so desire, including the author’s signature at book readings. Those traditional elements have proven pleasantly tenacious over time, even in the fact of the digital revolution. This is good news for everybody who loves literature, on both sides of the page. It means despite dire claims to the contrary, people are indeed still reading in the modern era.
Like the LP, once thought totally replaced by CDs, which ironically are now being rendered "obsolete" by downloads, print books will never go completely out of style, and also like vinyl records, they have even experienced been a resurgence of interest, long after being declared all but extinct.
But eBooks, like MP3s, have their inherent advantages as well, and will prove equally resilient, even as the format evolves via continuing innovation. Here are a few of those advantages:
1. Portability – true, an author cannot “sign” your eBook at a live appearance. But he or she can read the text right from their iPhone, just like you can (I've seen it done)! And if you “forget” to pack some leisurely literary material for your trip, either on the way to work in the morning or while relaxing on vacation, no worries, as long as your smart phone has the Kindle app. The convenience of this feature has been taken for granted amid all the hysteria that the commercial value of eBooks is in rapid decline.
2. Accessibility – along with the fact you can carry your book wherever you go without having to actually hold or pack a cumbersome tome, you can actually bring your own home library with you, since the number of books you can store on your Kindle is practically limitless, as well as easy to browse and choose.
3. Automatic Bookmarking – Kindle readers “hold your place” for you, so when you close the book, then reopen it later, you’re taken right back to where you left off, rendering the idea of a physical bookmark (or folded corner) obsolete. This is especially cool if you’re reading several books at once, and hopping around your own virtual library.
4. Affordability – many eBooks, especially by indie authors, can be not only sampled for free, but also purchased for basically a buck (.99), which is mutually beneficial, especially for unknown writers hoping total strangers will take the risk of downloading their work. And if you are a member of Kindle Select, you can read a bunch of books for one flat fee. Not all authors like this option due to complaints about underpayment, except in terms of exposure, but from the reader’s point of view, it’s a bargain. Major publishers are being “punished” for allegedly overcharging for the eBook editions of their bestselling titles, but that may change soon due to the backlash, to which some attribute the recent sales decline.
5. Easy to Publish – from the writer’s perspective, there is nothing more appealing than being able to upload your manuscript and see it on the marketplace almost instantly. Naturally this had led to a glut – or a bonanza, depending on how you look at it – but once discerning readers filter through the amateurish stuff, which is pretty easy to spot, a treasure trove of experimental, esoteric and exciting literature awaits, opening doors for both bold authors and adventuresome audiences alike.
So next time you come across an articleclaiming that eBooks are a dying breed, for whatever reason, keep in mind the piece itself was probably published exclusively online, not in a print magazine. Why? Because nowadays, most people access their information via digital technology. That is never going to change.
Case in point: the post you're reading right now.
What are some of your favorite things about the eBook format?
PHOTO: ALEXANDER PFEIFFENBERGER
New Orleans, LA