The Case for Ebooks
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When I first learned about ebooks ten years ago, I was a little skeptical. I already felt that the computer was a major time-suck, why did I want to continue sitting there in order to read a book? I certainly couldn’t lug my heavy desktop out to the hammock the way I could a nice paperback. And since files and folders could be so elusive, how would I remember where I put anything?
Well, as you know, a lot has changed in ten years. With the advent of the laptop, iPhone, Kindle, iPad, and other tablets, you can literally carry 100s of books around with you — and they’re easy to retrieve and read. Go figure.
What’s so good about digital books?
I have always been a bookworm. When I was growing up, my mom would take us to the public library on a Saturday where I would check out ten or twelve books to devour over the week, often in just a day or two. I loved the methodical ritual of signing my name on each library card and hearing the thunk thunk of the date stamp on the card. Technology has changed that, too.
While I love books with real pages and the fantastic memories I have associated with them, I’m warming to the wonderful convenience of the ebook. Here’s why:
1. I can get a library book in about ten seconds.
Recently, the San Diego County library system hooked up with Overdrive, a global distributor of digital books. I can find a book with a few clicks of the mouse and then retrieve the book and download it to my kindle or iPad in just a few seconds.
This is great for the voracious readers in our house. While they still love to go to the physical library, this digital process goes much more quickly. Plus, with multiple devices, more than one child can read the same book at the same time — something we can’t easily do with hardcovers or paperbacks. No more fighting over whose turn it is to read the book!
Additionally, there are no late fees or transportation costs involved with digital library books. They simply vanish from the device when the loan has expired.
2. I can carry many books at one time.
Currently, I use Amazon’s Kindle app as my go-to reader on my iPad and iPhone. With the Kindle device I won several years ago the kids and I have at least three portable devices to read from. The iBooks app is a close second, one that I use for ebook pdfs that I’ve purchased online. (If you don’t have a portable device you can still download the Kindle for PC app and read Kindle books that way. )
We can carry 100s of books around with us when we’re on vacation or away from home, making reading accessible any time of day or night.
This was particularly helpful earlier this week when my back went out on our “vacation”. I wasn’t able to take the kids on the planned field trip to Santa Barbara while my mother-in-law was at work and while FishPapa helped his dad with work projects. While I was laid up, the kids could access a myriad of books that we hadn’t packed for the trip.
3. I can keep many books without worrying about a storage issue.
Ebooks make it possible to own thousands of books. Our personal physical library is limited to about four bookshelves, but with digital books I don’t have to worry about maxing out my storage.
Plus, I just learned about Kindle Matchbook. Amazon will now sell you the Kindle version of books you’ve already purchased in paper or hardcover — at a reduced rate, less than $3 per title. So, if you want to reduce your paper, you can do so without paying full pop for the books you’ve already purchased.
4. I can read and exercise at the same time.
As I’ve explained before, I love being able to read on the treadmill. I don’t think I could do it with a real book, but with the iPad screen, I can very easily flip pages and make good use of my time. I would be dreadfully bored on the treadmill without some kind of distraction. I don’t like TV, but reading makes it worth it for me.
5. Homeschooling is easier.
We go through a lot of books in a school year. A lot of books. As I scroll through my iBooks collection (for pdfs) and my Kindle collection, I see that we’ve used many, many digital books for our homeschool over the last few years. Many classic novels are even available for free so I get a double bonus.
I buy certain Peace Hill Press books in pdf form so that I can save on the cover price of paperback. This helps us cut down on costs that are unavoidable (ie: these books are not available from the library).
I don’t need to worry about which books to pack when we go car-schooling; I just grab the iPad and I have everything I need.
6. I can self-publish easily.
If you aspire to be a writer, the advent of digital publishing makes it much easier for you to share your words with the world. I’ve published these books on my own:
- Organizing Life as MOM – getting your act together with a personal planner
- A Simpler Season – how to enjoy the holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s without overspending or overdoing
- Summer Survival Guide – enjoying the summer with your kids home
- 50 Books to Enjoy with Kids – a reading guide for moms and young children
With ebooks you can get your feet wet in the world of book publishing. All you need are strong writing skills and a little desktop design know-how.
7. I can benefit from ebook sales and bundle pricing.
Since digital books don’t cost the publisher as much to produce as paper books, they can offer these books at a discount, sometimes even free. This is a great way to lower your risk buying a book you may or may not like. The downside is that you can’t always “return” a digital book or sell it as you would an old paperback you’re ready to discard.
In addition to free books that are often available, you can buy ebooks from Ultimate Bundles that get you a LOAD of books for a very small price.
While I certainly don’t want physical books to fall off the shelf, I do see some of the innumerable benefits to ebooks. Just like I enjoy email for everyday and real cards for making special memories, I think we’ve got room for both digital and physical books.
Benefits of digital books
- no transportation costs
- smaller carbon footprint
- no late fees on library loans
- more than one child can read a book at a time
- you can own more books than your bookshelves can hold
- easy to read and exercise at one time
- easy to transport
- easy to self-publish
- cheaper than traditional books
What are YOUR thoughts on ebooks?
Are they worth it? What do you like about them?
I’m in the midst of downsizing and moving. All the physical books are packed, but I’ve got more than 400 to choose from on my Kindle. I didn’t think I’d like ebooks, but the space-saving aspect is a big win! Thanks for mentioning Kindle Matchbook — I’d never heard of it. It’ll allow me to let go of a few more books without really letting go!
I just noticed the Matchbook feature when I went to Amazon for another reason. I was able to grab some great favorites for super cheap. yay!
We love ebooks. And living as we do, in another culture with French as the dominant language (ie: the english selection at the library is very slim), ebooks are a must in our family. I was hesitant at first also. I don’t read ebooks on my computer, like you say, who wants to be on their computer all the time. But with Kindles and kindle apps on iPads for the kids, ebooks have a prominent and welcome place in our home and homeschool.
I agree with Janet there is nothing like real books. And I actually prefer them in many cases but I simply can’t get them where I live, without great expense and so ebooks meet a real need.
Thanks for writing about this. I’m working on a post right now about using ebooks in the homeschool, specifically when hardcopy books aren’t available and this would be a good reference post for that one.
You make some great points about the situations where ebooks really are superior.
I purchased a used Kindle and accessories to try out the e-reader experience. I am not a big fan. The only time I use my kindle is when I am traveling by air. Working all day on a computer, using another screen to relax in the evening just does not work for me. I much prefer to curl up in a comfy chair with a book.
I’ve noticed that there is a big difference among Kindle devices. We have an old one that does not have back lighting, so it looks more like looking at a page than a computer.
I love my Kindle. I’ve had one for about 4 years (I recently replaced my old one with a Paperwhite). I was one of those people who said you just can’t curl up in bed with an ereader. Well, I do just that now! I use my e-ink Kindle for reading “regular” books, and my Fire for cookbooks (like your freezer cooking one), craft books, and blogs.
My dh loves his, and our teenage ds always asks for the Kindle version of books I assign him for English. We’re an e-reader family. 🙂