Friday, October 7, 2011

Kindle vs. Books: Which side are you on?

So, I've been asked to comment on this article by Sara Barbour. It is basically an op ed on why the author prefers books over electronic/digital representations of books. If you are unfamiliar with the Kindle, watch the video review below and prepare to become uncomfortably familiar with it:

In her article, Barbour admits that she avoids the Kindle because she is afraid that she would be tempted (to use it and, possibly, replace her collection of books). She prefers books because of intangible things, such as sentimental value and "the experience of reading." So where do I stand?

Arguments for the Kindle
There are a lot of advantages to be had with eBooks and eReaders. You won't have to worry about the weight and storage of multiple books. This would probably come as a relief to most students familiar with the burden of carrying heavy backpacks.

You would be able to get books on demand, saving you the trip to the bookstore, the wait in lines, and/or the trouble of borrowing a popular and hard to find book in the library. This increased convenience can make reading a more viable option of entertainment and encourage more people to read. It's not a difficult thing to imagine: as easy as it is to flick open your iPhone and play a level in Angry Birds, you could just as easily have whipped out your Kindle and read a poem. The reduced demand for books is not a bad thing. After all, it's all in the cloud somewhere. Saving trees would only be an added bonus.

Arguments for Books
However, no matter how logical the argument is for the Kindle and other eReaders, books do indeed have that intangible appeal. This is especially true for those of us cognizant of the world before the internet and mobile devices became so engrained in our culture. My family used to take weekly trips to the library and I would often come back with a large stack of books that I could finish before next week's trip.

Even when discussing this topic with my friends, we realized that, no matter what we say in favour of the Kindle, we still had a large bookshelf at home filled with books that we would never get rid of. Again, reasons ranged from sentimental value to other unexplainable feelings. As an avid board game and CCG player, I can understand these sentiments as I almost always prefer playing face-to-face games with tactile materials.

In the end, it all depends. There is always some resistance whenever a new technology is introduce. It may be better in most ways, but there is always something missing. Really, I don't feel that there is a right or wrong choice in the matter, it is just up to personal preference. However, as we progress into the future, I do believe that more people will adapt the new technology and those loyal to the old ways will fade into the backdrop. Just as the telegraph gave way to the telephone and radio dramas moved on to movie adaptations, books, in their physical form, will most likely step aside for something else down the road.

Let's just hope this doesn't happen:

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