Monday, 16 August 2010

New-Fangled eReaders: The Growing Appeal

This is the age of technology. Didn't you get the memo? Paper is so last decade.

But despite my general excitement about most advances in technology (usually paired with a subconscious sense of impending doom - I've seen enough sci-fi movies to know that technology can be scary stuff), I've not really jumped on the eReader bandwagon. Mostly because of the emotional attachment I feel with worn, well-loved paperbacks that I can read in a hot bath. I can't imagine using an eReader in the bath. The screen would steam up, it would slip out of my wet hands and plop into the water and I'd electrocute myself to death. (Note: I have yet to drop a book in the bath.)

Not only that, but they are bloody expensive.

However, I have been watching the developments with interest. This month, Amazon released a UK beta version of the Kindle. Despite the drab grey colour, it looks more compact and you can get it with free wi-fi or swanky 3G for a little extra dosh. At £109 for the wi-fi only version, it is much more affordable than the beautiful looking Apple iPad, which is not a steal at £429 - thought the iPad does a lot more than host eBooks, of course.

Following Amazon's new Kindle release, Waterstone's slashed the price of its Sony pocket eReader to £99, and announced today that a new Sony eReader is on the way.

There is much debate about whether or not eBooks should be cheaper than printed books. When it comes down to it, the only cost saving is on the paper, which costs the publisher pennies. So technically, no, eBooks shouldn't be cheaper. However, since the reader will have to cough up for an expensive (though now declining in price) eReader, paired with the expectation that eBooks should be cheaper, eBooks do indeed seem to be a lot cheaper than paper books at the moment. Perhaps this is why Amazon recently reported that digital sales outstripped hardbacks for the first time. Good going, I'd say, especially since I still don't think everyone has heard of eReaders yet. My sister, an avid reader, asked me yesterday: 'What's a Kindle?'.

Perhaps the 'green' issue will help lift sales. eReaders have been labelled more 'green' than traditional paper books. After all, think of how many forests are cut down for the tonnes of paper needed to print the latest Dan Brown novel? However, eReaders run on electricity and end up in landfills when they are thrown away - surely that can't be that green? This recent article explains that eReaders are indeed more environmentally friendly, that the little electricity it takes to run them outweighs the carbon footprint of the paper book, and that Kindles are completely recyclable. Interesting.

So, eReaders are coming down in price. eBooks are cheaper. And an eReader is more eco-friendly than paper books.

I'm starting to see the appeal.

Other reasons I'd love an eReader include:
- So many up-and-coming authors provide awesome free e-content.
- Many eReaders support the use of PDF, and I'd love to try Inkspill Magazine out on them.
- Saving space on my bookshelf appeals to me.

So what about you? Do you have an eReader? What do you think of it? Do you want an eReader?


  1. No...this will be a battle I will fight to the death.

  2. Despite being a geek, and usually very happy to jump on the bandwagon, I will never buy an e-reader, and dislike ebooks on my existing hardware.

    I love real books! The smell and the texture! I had a bookshelf in my new flat long before I had a bed.

  3. Ha! I knew the price would come down as soon as I bought the Waterstones Elonex for £130 (which was the cheapest in the UK at the time).
    I don't see a problem with the two types of book co-existing. Like you I love the feel of real books but ereaders are storage space efficient. And I get a bit weary of the anti-techno arguments - if they had their way we'd still be scratching on the walls of caves!

  4. I'm willing to give most things a try (if I can afford to!).

    Dan, I'm surprised at you!

    Sandra, I like your point about having two ways of reading. One won't replace the other, I don't think.


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