Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday Words: E-Readers

It feels like they're everywhere, and it seems like a lot of people have very strong opinions on them. I am talking about the wonderful world of e-readers and the incredible impact they have had on the publishing and reading public in the last few years.

Within the last few months, we've seen what has been presented to us in commercials and ads as huge leaps and bounds in this particular venture. E-ink, no glare screens are just the tip of the iceberg for some of these devices. Now we have tablets, color screens, touch screens, LEDs that are back lit so you don't even need to invest in a booklight anymore. Plus there's the selling point that's been there pretty much all along - you can have hundreds if not thousands of books available to you at your fingertips, and all in something that weighs just over a pound.

With the new Barnes & Noble Nook Color Tablet out along with the new line of Amazon Kindles, these devices somehow are making reading a bit more chic again because it's not just about reading anymore, it's about having this gadget. I couldn't avoid this topic even if I tried.

There are big claims being made on both sides of the aisle. Some say that these devices combined with self-publishing makes it possible for every writer's stories to be shared. Others say this degrades the publishing industry if anyone can call themselves a 'published author.' Some believe e-readers will make bookstores and libraries obsolete (or that they already have) while others believe that on the contrary, they actually encourage people to come see what their libraries have already available and they force what has a reputation to be a stuffy and stale institution to put its best foot forward.

What are my thoughts on e-readers? I have more than a few, that's for sure. I don't believe it's the end of independent and chain bookstores, though they still have their work cut out for them. I don't think all libraries will suddenly be torn down and turned into parking lots, they will just have to adapt and I believe they can. But mostly, my thoughts on this are very similar to the ones I have when talking about best-seller or most-popular lists: they're not one size fits all, not everyone is going to like them.

Personally, I love my Nook. I got it last spring so it's the older version, but it's been great for traveling and I've loved being able to check out library books to it. However, I still like the feel of a book in my hands and I find myself checking out physical books more than ever before because they're more readily available. But I don't chastise people who refuse to use them because I definitely had my doubts too.

I'm anxious to hear what other people's thoughts are on this because it's a debate that will be going on for years to come. Comments are always welcome, and as always, happy reading!

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