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SF Signal's Mind Meld: The Pros and Cons of eBooks

Once again, I'm pleased to note that I was invited to participate in a Mind Meld discussion by the fine folks over at SF Signal. This time, the question they asked was, "Do you read eBooks? If not, why not? If so, what are the pros and cons of eBook reading? What device(s) do you use?"

Participants include (deep breath): Rachel Swirsky, Rose Fox, Jeremiah Tolbert, Dominic Green, Fabio Fernandes, Paul Levinson, Tim Lebbon, Jeff VanderMeer, Paul Melko, Ellen Datlow, and me.

What surprised me the most was the number of people who don't read eBooks, and why they don't.

Go check it out:

Mind Meld: The Pros and Cons of eBooks

Comments

My primary reasons were probably best covered by Dominic Green, Paul Levinson, and a part of your answer: Print doesn't require the right (licensed/supported/controlled) tech/software or batteries. It's like the battery-operated bathroom-soap-foamer I once saw: why bother? I mean, sure, plenty of stuff is available only in eBook form, but most everything I've been interested has been available in print (preferred) or been accessible to my laptop (which I would have anyway and does so much more than a reader can). I also find print far more intuitively navigable than I imagine an electronic form being: If I'm holding a book, I can easily jump to a certain page range or flip to a map/index or otherwise move around in ways I suspect aren't as simple with a reader. And I have no fear of losing a significant investment if I risk reading a printed book in the bath.

I don't judge folks who have, use, or like them; they just aren't for me. You're right, that's an interesting collection of responses, too.
"Take a deep breath?" Who were these people, the ten sons of Haman? I hope they didn't meet the same fate...
In a more serious vein, I don't enjoy eBooks. The search function in a text book that you've read is very easy: flip to about where read the text and find it. There's no such mental markers in an electronic text.

Also, as far as I know, you can't make notes, doodles, underlines, and similar markings in an electronic book.

Finally, electronic books can't be read on Shabbat.
Many said they don't read them *now*, because they read too much online for work. I can understand that.. and the format change is good for the eyes.

If you don't have a kindle or nook, it's tough. And if you're in sci-fi publishing or a reviewer, you can get all kinds of books for free, so.. why pay for an ebook?

I'm in the middle. I tend to get most of my books from the library, which doesn't yet do any DRM'd books for the iphone (NYC), at my last check.

I read Baen stuff all the time, but haven't yet splurged for a Kindle. I'm waiting for the next gen, at least.

What I *really* want was described years ago in some book, or article. (It may have been the original Wired article on E-Ink...)
I want a physical book, with ~ 300 pages. All of them e-ink. and set at one time to a single book. Flash the entire book into the title you want, or some fraction (1st half, etc.)

If you can disconnect the circuitry, it'd be OK for shabbos, too. For those of us who read fast, maybe we'd have 2-3 of the units in the house. Or maybe 1-2 per family member. *THAT* would be nice. Shabbos safe, feeling of moving the page, etc.

On the other hand, the Apple Tablet, if it ever arrives, -or the Crunchpad - seem to be a nice idea.

I *love* my iphone, but i'd like something a bit bigger, either for reading, or watching video. My laptop isn't really subway safe, and my netbook is nice, but again, not really fast enough for decent size video..

Man, I love me some eBooks, because of the opposing side of the one of the issues presented by Rose Fox: the virtual nature of them, which crams them into zero space, makes them practical for me.

As my family grows, finding space for all of our books has been really difficult. Looking around the rooms in our house, the wall space is vanishingly small. There is room for maybe one bookshelf in each of our living room and bedroom, and the two we have in the nursery. Every time I clean house, I find myself confronting the difficult decision of which books I will give away on this pass.

I love to own books, to be able to reread them again and again. The 150 or so eBooks I currently own represent 150 or so books I never have to choose to get rid of. I have a fantastic classics library on my Kindle now, either bought at discount prices or downloaded free from Project Gutenberg. I've grabbed lots of books from the Baen free library and bought more from Webscriptions, even before I had a dedicated reader that saved me from eyestrain.

I would love to one day have an entire library in my house, with shelves floor to ceiling, crammed with all the books I love to read, where I could sit in comfort and smell the nice book smell and read in peace, but I like my big chaotic family more. With eBooks, a new book bought doesn't mean an old favorite has to go to make room for it.
One major knock against ebooks is that I do a lot of my pleasure reading on Shabbat, ruling out ebooks barring a shabbat-friendly reader. I agree with your points in the article, too. (I also just prefer real books).

That being said, since I live somewhere without great English bookstores, I do indeed download the occasional ebook (which I usually just read on my computer), when I don't want to wait the time it takes to ship books here (usually via ParentNet).

In fact, you inspired me to join Fictionwise when I realized there were a few of your stories available that I hadn't read via some other channel. Last Shabbat somehow we got to talking about zombies and I even mentioned your Vampire story!
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