the E-Book and the Slow Death of the Printed Book – How We Read Now

The long predicted decline and death of the printed book may at last be happening. On Christmas Day more customers of the giant online retailer, Amazon.com, purchased e-books (also known as acim or electronic books) than the traditional printed books.

According Michelle Meyers of cnet.com, Amazon reported in its annual post-Christmas report on 2009 holiday sales that its e-book reader, Kindle, had been the most “gifted” item. And not only that but “on Christmas Day [2009], for the first time ever, Amazon customers bought more Kindle books than physical books.”

Other e-book readers, such as the Sony Reader and Barnes and Noble’s Nook, are not far behind, and Apple is about to release its own reader, the Apple Tablet.

The ease of downloading the latest e-book cannot be denied and the latest e-book readers now have a huge number of e-books available for you to read. For example, Kindle offers a library of 300,000 items for your perusal. Google Editions is entering the market with an initial offering of 500,000 electronic books for you to read.

Until now, e-book readers have been somewhat difficult to read but screen quality is now dramatically improving with the text on the screen much sharper and option to increase font size if your eyes require that.

Add to that, the weight of the readers is steadily declining and battery life is now a day or more, so you are not constantly returning to your recharger.

The e-book has traditionally appealed to the younger generations — to Generation X and especially Generation Y — but now, in addition, older readers appear to be getting hooked by the electronic reading experience.

So all the advantages seem to be with e-books — or are they?

When you visit a bookstore, you can buy books from any publisher, but currently each e-reader can only read the e-books from a limited range of publishers.

Then, many books that you want to read are out-of-print and you can only access these from out-of-print bookstores. (Perhaps the huge Google Books project may somewhat remedy this problem.)

Lose a paperback and you are down $10 or so; lose an e-reader and you will have to find another $300 to replace it.

In a quest to keep the electronic file size down, many e-book editions have deleted many (or all) of the photographs and other images that are found in the original print edition. That certainly reduces the quality of the reader experience.

Speaking of reader experience, it is hard to see whether scrolling through the pages of an e-book will ever replace the pleasure of turning the pages of a printed book. And how, on a rainy day, will one every be able to curl up with an e-book.

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