How I Became an ebook Convert

by WordWelder

The story of how a printed book lover got her mind opened to the daily use of ebooks. It's not that bad.

I grew up loving books like nothing else. Thanks to my parents' notion that a TV-free household is the best way to go, my sister and I spent more time with our noses buried in books of all sorts than being glued to the black box. Thus began my love affair with books - the kind made of paper.

When electronic books entered the scene, I was torn. I am quick to embrace technology, but I was also adverse to the idea of ditching traditional books. This is the story of how I was able to find the happy medium.

The Beginnings: My Love for Books

Images like this one never fail to evoke an entire scene in my head. I go back to the days when I was a young girl waiting for my mom to finish with work.

She used to teach in a school, and to get me out of the way, she'd leave me in the library. I was in heaven amongst the ceiling-high shelves sagging due to the weight of the volumes. The musty odor of old books permeating my favorite nook in the library had (and still has) a calming effect on the hyperactive little girl that I was.

I don't remember the exact moment I fell in love with books. I do remember eyeing my parents with envy as a toddler (I was maybe three) as they read on quiet evenings. I remember holding books, newspapers, or anything that had printed words and pretending to read. I would move my mouth in an attempt to "show off".

While I can't tell you how it all started, book lovers probably know where I am coming. 

My arguments against making that switch to ebooks can be summed up neatly:

  • Printed books provide the whole experience I described above - an experience that cannot be replaced by cold electronic devices.
  • Digital versions cannot replace a nice collection of printed books in a physical home library.
  • Printed books allow you to disconnect. With our lives being too connected online, it is a good thing to be out of the loop at times.
  • Printed books can be read any time, without relying on an electronic device. 

The bottom line: there is nothing like the feel and the smell of holding a printed book in your hand and getting lost in a whole different world.

Image via Billy_R on Flickr

The Transition to ebooks

Why I gave in

For all my resistance, I have become an avid ebook reader. How did this happen? Remember my arguments against ebooks earlier? I have to say that they still hold water, but a mixture of thinking and circumstances have led me to be more flexible about my stance in this "issue".

One, I was uprooted several years ago, and I have no permanent base that I call my own. Let's say that I am living a semi-nomadic life, and yes, I still love reading. What to do with my cartons of boxes? I can't possibly lug them around all the time. One point for ebooks.

Two, traveling has become a regular activity for me in the past years. I make it a point to go to the beach or visit a different city at least twice a year, and during these trips, I need books to accompany me. I do not always know what I feel like reading, but I can't very well take too many books, can I? Enter ebooks. Hundreds of books in one tiny device. Need I say more?

Three, the ebook reading experience has become rather convenient and pleasant. There are many apps that make it easy on the eyes. You can highlight and share quotes from books. You can create bookmarks easily.

Four, some ebooks can be acquired much faster than printed books. If I really want to read a book and cannot wait for it to be delivered, Amazon (one choice among many) comes to the rescue.

E-Reading Trends

An Infographic

As convenient as I find ebooks, I have to admit that I have not totally ditched the idea of printed books. I have my stash safely stored at my parents' home. Now and then, I think of them with fondness, and tell myself there will come a time when I build my own nest and enjoy those books again.

For now, however, I am content to enjoy ebooks and the occasional paperback/hardbound. 

On this note, I'd like to share some numbers with you regarding the trends in e-reading. On the left is an infographic design by Infographic Labs which details how people are engaging in e-reading. A short summary:

  • 21% of Americans have read ebooks in the past year. Whether that's due to the fact that not too many are keen on leaving printed books behind or people just don't read, we are not told.
  • Those who read ebooks tend to read more books than those who stick to printed books.
  • People who read ebooks buy more books than those who read printed books, who tend to borrow more. Makes sense, doesn't it?
  • The Kindle Fire is the top ereader in the market.

See more of the infographic here.

Which do you prefer?

Updated: 06/19/2012, WordWelder
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WordWelder on 07/05/2012

@spirituality: How about getting ebooks of those love novels since the electronic copies are easier when it comes to cleaning up? ;)
Seriously, at this point, I only buy real books if I know I will keep them for as long as I could and re-read over and over again. Of course, that usually means reading the ebook first, unless it's by a favorite author.

spirituality on 07/03/2012

I haven't yet totally converted to ebooks. I'm too worried that the format I choose to day will be gone tomorrow. On the other hand, why buy a physical copy of a novel you'll only read once? My collection of love novels has to be cleaned up several times a year to make room for new ones. The opposite argument is valid for books that get reread a lot: you want them with you all the time and in that case digital really beats a physical copy. I guess that means there's no argument except lack of trust that makes me continue reading on paper. That and a love for browsing book shelves in libraries and book stores ;)

WordWelder on 06/21/2012

I totally agree, although I think that as long as there are people who see the value in printed books (even if not for everyday use), there will be bookstores. Libraries as well, although they may carry more electronic material.

JaneG on 06/21/2012

I would have to agree, ebooks are replacing real books. It's just so much easier than carrying and storing real books. Still I hope bookstores and libraries don't go the way of music stores.

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