Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Why I Haven’t Purchased a Kindle… or Another E-reader

with 4 comments

There has been exponential growth in the market towards E-readers.  I am a firm believer that this market will continue to grow and is a huge part of the future of publishing.  However, someone asked me a few months ago about seminary and e-readers and I thought I might spur some discussion as to why I haven’t purchased a Kindle or any other e-reader yet…

The pros to the e-readers are twofold and substantial.  First, size/portability, I can fit an entire library of books in the palm of my hand.  Second, I can take advantage of search.  Even the most steel trap and voluminous mind cannot instantaneously search through books they have read and annotated.  I am sure there are more benefits (cost/book…) but being that I don’t own one I cannot legitimately weigh in on more than the first two (you can list additional pros in the comments section).

The pros to actual physical book texts are fourfold:  tactile, speed, annotation, and ownership.

Tactile: First, I am a tactile person who enjoys the feel of paper and appreciates a well-bound book (and is annoyed by poorly bound books… *cough* crossway *cough*).

Speed: Second, a recent study (which in my view did not have a statistically significant sample size at only 32 persons) showed that a physical paper text read was 6.2% faster than an iPad and 10.7% quicker than a Kindle.

Annotation: Third, annotation is one of the main reasons I read.  With a fine pen I can use my elaborate annotation system to mark important ideas, paragraphs, sections, and quotations – as well as, interact with the text with my own follow-up responses to the text.  Annotation is critical for my reading process and is what helps me not have to re-read books several times in order to go back to important ideas, passages, and arguments.

Ownership:  Lastly, is the idea of ownership.  For me personally, the idea of ownership of a physical book is the biggest trump card over the e-readers.  Here is what I mean by ownership – when I go and buy a physical book (used, new… whatever), I own that book and can keep it, re-sell it, or donate it.  With an E-reader, if a book ends up in my re-sell or donate pile, I cannot do anything with that book besides delete it of my device or keep it there.  Perhaps one of you who understands some of these devices can speak to this related issue – what happens when my E-reader dies and I have to buy the same E-reader or a different platform of E-reader, do I still own the books on the device that died?  My understanding is that the answer is no on all or most accounts (with perhaps the exception of an iPad were you synced and backed up e-books).  With that said, I believe that with the e-reader’s you are essentially renting a text.  I would prefer to own a text and not run the risk of losing my entire library because I didn’t sync my device or because my device was broke or stolen or some superior platform came out and I have to re-purchase my whole library.

At the end of the day it is a subjective question.  Books are resources. I need a book for a lifetime and want to bequeath it to my progeny. E-books fail in the resource column in my opinion. They are convenient in some areas but I need certain texts for life.

My two cents.  Your thoughts… and/or flaws in my argument(s)…

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Written by Michael Graham

October 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Culture, Recommended Books

Tagged with , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. on the kindle (as well as the kindle apps for iphone, PC Mac, and Android) once you purchase a book, it is accessible on all your devices (and future devices).

    I dont have an ereader, yet, but I do have the kindle App on my phone and love it. Cheaper books, instant access, etc.

    And there is a way to annotate on kindle. I don;t use it very often, but there is a way. Just so you know.

    Ben of BenandJacq

    October 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm

  2. I used to own an iPad, but unfortunately sold it because I needed the money. I used it to read books and I have to say. I loved it. I think Apple has actually thought of some of your concerns about e-readers. By bookmarking passages you can even, if you wanted, just read through your list of saved passages and notes in order to skim through a text.

    With the newest update, you can add sticky notes and highlight text in addition to bookmarking passages. perfect for making notes that can be saved in your book, and also sent to other people.

    As for ownership, nothing quite compares to owning a physical book, but the iPad comes pretty close by having a visual bookshelf for all your books. It adds to the feeling of accomplishment when you see a book you’ve read sitting on your shelf. Also, bookmarks, books, etc. are synched automatically to iTunes. So as soon as you buy a book, it’s saved to your account so no matter what happens you can re download it for free.

    Overall, I loved reading on my iPad. The screen was fantastic, as was the ability to look up words, definitions, etc.. I definitely recommend one.

    Scott

    October 17, 2010 at 5:02 pm

  3. There are some other, more serious issues with ownership than just changing devices. They can lock your device and keep you from using it, or from using specific books.

    For example, someone got his Amazon account removed and couldn’t use his kindle anymore. After a bunch of e-mails, they finally agreed to reinstate his account.

    Bryan Rosander

    October 17, 2010 at 7:14 pm

  4. […] my friend Mike wrote a post about why he hasn’t purchased an e-reader such as the Nook or Kindle. Since this post is a direct response to his, I would highly recommend […]


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