Can Ebooks Compete With Traditional Books? The Good, Bad and Ugly Side of Ebooks and Books

Tech geeks have long ago predicted that with online e-commerce, your traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores would soon go the way of the dodo bird. Online book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble took some time to take off but eventually nibbled a substantial share of the book-loving markets going to corner bookstores to buy books. But the traditional bookstores didn't die. Some may have closed shop but for reasons less attributable to the emerging online commerce.

Then came the eBooks, those non-editable electronically digitized books and reference manuals often downloaded on the internet in PDF file formats, had pundits extolling its virtues and likewise predicting the demise of the printed matter. To a large extent, they sounded no different from those who have predicted the death of the LP albums with the advent of the music CD and MP3s. For a while, they did disappear in music stores, but a niche market has been thriving for music lovers who consider analog records superior to digital ones.

Books vs eBooks

Will the same path be reserved for the printed books? They probably won't go that route. Then again, it may be too early to tell. There are indications that point to the advantages and disadvantages of either. Here are some.

  • While many book lovers find hardbound books a joy to behold and read, paperbacks are hardly a joy to read as they require some effort to maintain open the page you are reading. eBook readers, especially the likes of Kindle which has no backlighting to strain the eyes, have made reading any paperback novel effortless.
  • You need batteries to use an eBook reader. And we all know that batteries have a way of dying on you when you need them the most. Unless you have a bagful of spare batteries, the printed book wins hands down when you have to read books in an extended camping trip or when vacationing out in the boondocks or remote pristine island that has no electricity.
  • When you drop a book, there's nothing to fret about. When you drop an eBook reader, you can say goodbye to whatever you are reading and its contents.
  • Reading a book makes you look intellectual. Reading an eBook in a Kindle or iPad makes you look cool.
  • There are no free books from bookstores. The best deal can be had in thrift bookstores where you can get a buy-one-take-one deal or get a title for a few cents. But there are free eBooks of titles in the public domain. These are often your titles of great literary masterpieces.
  • Corollary to the above, eBook readers open up literary hundreds of thousands of book titles at your fingertips which you can download within seconds or minutes depending on the file size. You also have the ability to search with instantaneous speeds. Try that in a corner neighborhood bookstore.
  • An eBook reader costs a lot more than a book, typically 10x to 20x more. You will need to get at least 10 titles stored in it to break even. But that's not a problem with the new generation of eBook readers that allow you to store hundreds if not thousands of titles in its memory. You can also go virtual 'cloud computing' where the titles are stored in remote servers and any eBook reader that supports the format can read them wherever you go and using someone else's eBook reader.
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Source by John Teh

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