The Amazon Kindle – a software and hardware platform that allows users to download and read electronic books – was first released in November 2007. Whether the reader was before its time or the amount of downloadable books weren’t robust enough, the Kindle craze didn’t catch on until late 2009.
In 2009, Amazon introduced the “Kindle for iPhone” application, getting millions of iPhone users hooked on the idea of being able to read whatever they want whenever they want. Suddenly an explosion was seen in the development and re-development of ebook readers from Sony and even Barnes and Noble.
Literary purists generally look down on ebook readers for being impersonal and somewhat “cold”. They feel that the art and legacy of printed books will be lost to a generation of tech-savvy readers and eventually, authors will begin making their books available online in lieu of selling through a publisher. But I am not so sure that ebook readers mean the death of traditional printed work, and here’s why.
Printed Books Allow for More Personal Time
In fact, researchers at Temple University and the Institute of Chicago have found that parents and pre-school children share a more positive experience when reading traditional books together rather than ebooks. Traditional, printed books allow for a faster development in literacy skills and reading comprehension. Also, those who read traditional books generally take a more active role in reading, whereas those who read ebooks let the book guide them instead of using their own imagination.
Traditional Books Give a More Personal Experience
Ever tried taking notes on an ebook reader? Impossible. For the reading enthusiasts out there who never finish a book without a few margin-notes or underlines or highlighting, the ebook will simply never work. If you read an interesting point or want to remember something for later, you must use a system of electronic methods to get this done. It’s so much easier to just jot down a note in the margin than rely on another electronic method to keep notes.
Audio Books Didn’t Kill the Traditional Book
When audio books first rose to popularity, the literary community and those who loves books were up in arms. They were convinced that people would rely on their daily commutes to “read” their favorite books. They thought the publishing and book selling industry would crash and books would be relegated to something as boorish as being recorded on a cassette tape. That clearly didn’t happen. Audio books simply could not provide the personal touch that traditional printed books do.
There are Two Distinct Markets for eBooks and Traditional Books
This is probably the most obvious point. Those looking to use ebooks are using them very differently than traditional books. Perhaps you can’t decide between which titles you want with you on an airplane; use an ebook reader, you can take a bunch and not crowd your carry-on luggage. But if you are looking to ease into a book with a cup of tea and a warm fire, you probably won’t lunge for the ebook. Ebooks will inevitably continue to rise in popularity, but they will never replace traditional books, they will just augment their use.
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