28 January 2012

Discussion Post: The eBook Reading Experience

So, this semester I'm taking a Reader's Advisory class for my Master's program and this week we discussed the eBook "experience."  Our readings and discussion focused on the pros/cons of eReaders/eBooks and the "experience" as a whole--what's it like to read with and eReader (or an iPad or Smartphone or on a computer).  One research article that we read talked about the distractions often association with e-reading in general (especially on a computer).  So...I'm really curious what y'all think! Here's some of the things that we talked about:

  • Instant gratification--Many of us expressed that it's really nice/exciting to pre-order a book that you're excited about and download it at midnight without having to arrange a trip to a store.
  • Ability to enlarge text--With anyone who has difficulty with the small print used in the majority of books, this is an obvious and fantastic improvement.  Older people who can't read the newspaper can have it delivered to an eReader and enlarge the text!
  • Portability and convenience--Anyone whose traveled with an eReader of any kind knows the awesomeness that can be taking 15+ books on vacation without the added bulk of physical books.  Also, who wouldn't love being able to carry around a book for every mood right in their purse?
  • Price--Once you get past the initial expenditure for your reading device, the books themselves offer a (slightly) less expensive option to the physical book.  Sure, sometimes $9.99 seems like a lot to pay for an eBook, but (a) you're still supporting the author and (b) it's still less than that hardcover you were coveting on your last trip to the bookstore.
  • Remote purchasing--While not many people in my class live as remotely as I do, I offered up that it's nice when you are really in the mood to read something in particular and you're nowhere near a bookstore OR a library to be able to just download the book (whether purchasing or borrowing from a library's ebook collection)
  • Price--While you might save on eBooks (sometimes), the initial price of buying a reading device can be enough to deter or prevent someone from reading electronically.
  • Nostalgia--We all have it--that memory of first books read and first books owned and first books chewed to bits by cats (maybe just me?).  Whatever it is, many bibliophiles have an attachment to the physical nature of holding and reading a "real" book.
  • Page-flipping & other habits--While it's possible with an eBook, it's much easy to do things like flip ahead or back a few pages to see what's going on, to remind yourself of a character, or to see where things are headed.  (Or if you're crazy like me and my professor--to read the last three pages or so)
  • Sharing--While yes, you can share SOME eBooks with other eBook readers, it's not as easy.  The other person must have a way of reading the eBook AND the published must make that book available for sharing. It's much easy to hand someone a book (with your name written in pencil neatly in the front and the dust jacket removed).
  • Too much like reading on a computer--While many of us who enjoy e-reading, there was a general consensus among the non-electronic readers that it was too plugged in and connected to other things.  After you spend all day reading/working at a computer, isn't it nice to pick up a book, move away from all electronics, and curl up on the couch for uninterrupted reading time?
Beyond the pros and cons of eBooks, one of our main topics really was the "experience" (as I noted before).  What I mean by this is, can you forgive and forget the reading medium and immerse yourself in the story? It is different with a physical book vs. an ebook?  What contributes to your reading pleasure?  What's your favorite mode of reading? How has that changed (if at all) in the past few years?

So, talk! What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear what you think--both just to spark some conversation and to share some insights with my fellow students. :)


Jana Warnell said...

I really love my ereader and for me the biggest plus is the ablility to buy any book because since Borders closed down in my town we don not have a bookstore.  We have two good used bookstores, but no new bookstores.  So when all the harperteen books were on sale and bloomsbury had that great Chistmas sale I was able to pick up quite a few.
However, I still use my libraries a TON and if I love a book I do buy a physical copy.
Great post!

Gina/Scot Callaway said...

I was an early adopter to the Kindle.  I had one before most people had even heard of them.  I LOVE mine.  Its so portable.  I've increased the amount of time I spend reading significantly.  Its so much easy to port around my kindle than a real book.  I also really appreciate being able to adjust the font.  When they released text-to-speech it became even better. I now listen to books on my commute.  Though I love the touch and feel of a real book, the kindle has been more economical and practical for my traveling needs.

Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

I never thought I would enjoy ereaders because I didn't think I could plug into the story the same way kind of like you mentioned.  But I didn't have a problem with that at all.  I also started with a Sony Ereader so I could only read on my device.  I couldn't check the internet or anything.  I also didn't have problems reading because of the ink type.  Now that I'm on iPad, I'm kind of too plugged in and it is like reading on a computer but now that I'm accustomed to ereading I don't care about that anymore.  If I could, I'd buy all print books, but it just doesn't fit my lifestyle anymore.  Depending on your life, the pros and cons weigh differently at any given time.  Now I can get library books on my ereader too!  I still read most of my books in print but not as many as I would have thought years ago.

Oh my gosh, I wrote so much.  I'm not sure if I've added anything to the conversation.

Life As Wife said...

I love ereading for a lot of the reasons you mentioned. I don't have a reader though and use my iPhone so my eyes get annoyed sometimes.

I will always buy actual books though because nothing beats the smell!!

Heidi said...

Very insightful post Jess. Here are my thoughts. Since I got my Kindle three years ago I have gone almost exclusively to ebooks. I love the ease and convenience. I love being able to have 3000 books on my device even though I don't..and not having to try and store all my books. Makes life so much easier, plus the husband can't criticize my book collection taking up too much space. I agree with the observations of getting distracted while reading on my ipad, everytime a twitter or email comes in I stop to check it. So, I try to read on my Kindle to prevent that. It has also cured my habit of reading the last three pages of the book as well. So, I guess I am in the ebook camp. Though I love all books besides you can't pass up some of the great deals on books, including free! Great post Jess!

DJ_Librarian said...

This is a great post and I hope it's generating excellent discussion. While I agree with you in regards to the pros of ebooks, I cannot get over the fact that reading them is just slower for me. I think it's the idea of making progress in your book that you just cannot see enough with an ebook. Yes, there is the percentage read, but most times it feels like I'm not getting anywhere in an ebook vs a physical book. Now, granted this also depends on the book that I'm reading, and if a book's pace feels like it's lagging, it could be both the book and the fact that it's on my Kobo. There have been other titles that I zipped through on my Kobo simply because of the story I was reading. So there are other factors involved. Overall, I think it's hard to replace a physical book to me even when you can store 1,000 different books in one place. 

Petra @ Safari Poet said...

I think ebooks are too expensive, the exception being indie authors who usual price their books between 0,99 and 4,99. But even then, you're paying for something you'll never really own. And with Amazon, if they ever delete the book from their library, it's automatically deleted from yours, which isn't fair.

As convenient as they are, I'll never prefer them over physical books. Meagan Spooner explains perfectly why: http://www.meaganspooner.com/books-as-fingerprints/

All You Can Books said...

It's a great experience reading on a device like this. We can take these eReaders everywhere with us, because they are small and portable. Also, we can find some of these with plus features besides reading like: watching movies, playing games and many more. We must only choose the best for us and enjoy the books.

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