I have always enjoyed books. I have two large bookcases that are full of a mixture of books that I have read and have not, books that are on loan and books I would happily loan. For the past several months I have indulged in an exploration of various titles and have expanded my personal library.
I have often flirted with the idea of purchasing an e-reader, but can never justify the cost, nor can I fully grasp the idea of interacting with a digital text. The printed page offers a visceral experience that technology has yet to replicate; the smell of the printed page, the creases that form in the spine, the notations made from previous readers. Yet with my most recent read, Passing on the Right, I found that my most economic choice was to download a digital copy to read via the Kindle app on my iPad.
The reading experience thus far has been satisfying. The digital type has proven to be easier to read. I am able to bookmark my progress easily and I have found that having the ability to lookup words I don't fully understand is not only simple but informative. While there are a few things that are different from reading a physical book, the experience is not dramatically different.
I think in the future I will be more open to a digital copy over one that is printed, however there are still a number of things to consider before going completely digital:
- Cost: Many books can be found used on Amazon for less than a four dollars (shipping included). Kindle books range in price, but can cost as much as a physical copy. If you are looking for the most economic choice, digital downloads are not always the best choice.
- Sharing: There hasn't been a book yet that I didn't think that my mom or a friend may enjoy as well. Loaning or giving away books is often how I am introduced to new authors or how I can introduce others to new texts. As far as I know there is no way to share a digital copy of a book. Additionally if you are unable afford to make any purchase, a copy of the book you want can always be found at your local library.
- Travel: While it is true a Kindle or an iPad takes up much less room than a physical book, I would be much more comfortable losing a $15 book than a $120–$400 electronic device. A book can easily go to the beach, camping and be thrown about by nieces and nephews without too much worry. Peace of mind is much easier to achieve with a printed text and when traveling I see nothing that is more important than that.