Imagine you want to read a book. But what if you do not have time to go to the bookstore? What if all the copies are sold out, or you live nowhere near a bookstore? If you own a Kindle, an iPad, or any other kind of electronic book, this will not be a problem. As long as you have your e-reader and an internet connection, you can buy a book with one click.
Its great convenience is one of many factors that contribute to e-books’ massive success since the unveiling of the Kindle in 2007. According to the New York Times, in 2010, sales of e-books quadrupled, and on July 19, Amazon announced that for the past three months, 143 Kindle books had been sold for every 100 hardcover books. Meanwhile, the iTunes store sold over 300,000 books on the first day of the iPad’s release.
Travelers with e-readers will never violate weight limits or carry stuffed backpacks again; in the newest version of the Kindle, the 10.2-ounce device can hold up to 3,500 books, a massive library in one’s pocket.
E-readers could usher in a new era of students with good posture-no more slumping from heavy textbooks or SAT preparation books. These can be downloaded onto the Kindle, too, and you can still annotate, highlight, or underline to your heart’s desire.
Will e-books’ advantages cause a total shift in reading as we know it, just as iPods and mp3 players forced CDs into total disappearance? Fellow boarding school Cushing Academy seemed to think so when it swapped its library books for 65 Kindles, an electronic database for research, and several wide-screen TVs.
As with any device that instigates change, e-books receive much criticism. One complaint regards the typos that abound in Kindle books, and page breaks have completely escaped e-publishers. The electronic light strains the eyes, and furthermore, Kindles and iPads are delicate creatures that will break if shoved into a crammed a backpack.
Finally, there is the classic book-lover’s complaint, and the one heard most often from e-reader critics and fans alike, which Sarah Woolf ’12 put so succinctly: “There is absolutely no way to recreate the feeling of leafing through the pages of a book. It’s an incredible feeling to have the weight of the paper and its ink in your hands, to think about who may have had it before you and who will have it after you, to feel the breeze and smell that ‘new-book-paper’ smell…. Books aren’t just about the words in them. They’re about the experience of the object that is a book.”