8 Reasons Regular Books Will Become an Endangered Species

electronic booksIf you’d asked me two months ago whether ebooks would ever fully replace regular books, I would have told you there was no way. Both my husband and my mom insist they prefer “real” books. None of my friends own a Kindle, Nook, or Sony eReader.

And then I got a Kindle for my birthday.

While I still don’t think regular books will ever go extinct, I do think ebooks are going to put “real” books on the endangered species list.

(1)   The Kindle Lets You Highlight Passages and Write Notes

I took my Kindle to church last Sunday and typed notes on the passage my pastor preached on.

Big deal, you say. I can highlight my paper books and write notes in the margin. Yes, yes, you can, but if you’re like me and hate to deface a book or you’re worried you’ll want to change the note later, you won’t write in a paper book. The Kindle lets you erase or change a note or highlight whenever you want.

(2)   You Can Buy A Book In A Traffic Jam

Don’t mock it until you’ve been sitting in a traffic jam for three hours with no end in sight, you’ve finished your current book, and your only other option is to listen to your husband yell at the other drivers about why there’s no reason for traffic like this when you have 12 lanes.

My Kindle came with EDGE technology that lets me buy a book anywhere a cell phone would work at no additional cost. In a traffic jam. In an airport. In a park. Instant gratification.

(3)   You Can Get A Cover With A Built In Light

With a regular book, you need to have a light on to read, which can really annoy a spouse who’s trying to sleep (take it from the spouse who’s usually the one trying to sleep). You can read your Kindle in places where you’d otherwise need to hold a flashlight (I hate trying to hold a flashlight and a book). You can read it in the car—where an overhead light would bother your driving spouse—or on a plane if your overhead light isn’t bright enough.

(4)   Kindles Are Perfect for Small Hands

Even by female standards, I’m small. I’m 5 foot 2 inches with hands like a child. Thick books (*cough* Games of Thrones *cough* Harry Potter) are uncomfortable to hold. They’re heavy and just plain awkward for me. Obviously this isn’t a deal-breaker, but if there’s a better way to read, why not take it.

My Kindle, even wearing its leather cover, is the perfect size—thin, small, and light. I can hold it comfortably for hours.

(5)   No Need for a Bookmark

Ever had a bookmark slide out on you, leaving you scrambling to find your page again? Hate to wreak your pages by turning down the corners? My Kindle holds my place, saved automatically.

(6)   Ability to Change Font Size

Setting aside the fact that I’m getting older and my eyes aren’t what they used to be, some books are printed with font that’s just too small to be comfortable even for fresh eyes. My Kindle lets me select the font size I prefer, along with margins and line spacing.

(7)   A Kindle Helps You Pack Light

My husband loves to tease me about the amount of luggage I bring regardless of where we’re going. Even if I’m only away for a weekend, I want to take at least four books with me. With my Kindle, I can take thousands if I want in less space than one average book takes.

(8) The Next Generation Is Tech Savvy

This is the number one reason regular books will become an endangered species. The next generation is used to gadgets. They love them, crave them, in the same way that a lot of us long for some of the simplicity that’s been lost. Very few of them are going to feel the same loyalty to “real” books that my mom and my husband do. (Plus, my Kindle feels like I’m holding a real book, and the leather cover smells wonderful. Just saying.)

In fact, I can only think of three reasons why ebooks might never fully replace regular books.

(1)   Sand and electronic devices don’t mix.

(2)   When you’re in the middle of a page-turner, and the battery on your Kindle dies . . .

(3)   Will the ebooks of today be compatible with the Kindle of a decade from now?

Why does this matter for writers?

If you aren’t thinking about ebooks when you negotiate your contract with a publisher or when you go to self-publish, you need to be. They’re here to stay. They’re a growing market. And any writer today who doesn’t adapt, dies.

Do you have a Kindle? Why do you love it or hate it? If you don’t own a Kindle yet, what’s stopping you?

Marcy

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21 comments on “8 Reasons Regular Books Will Become an Endangered Species

    • The Kindle I have doesn’t have color, so it wouldn’t work for picture books, but I do think the next generation of kids will have no problems reading even their picture books off a tablet, especially given the opportunity to expand into smart books. A whole new world of interaction with the story will open up. That aspect is probably a little farther off though.

      I don’t think books meant for toddlers and infants will ever go digital since there’s too great a chance of them destroying them, and given how much joy very young children get from turning physical pages. What I wouldn’t be surprised to see is an invention that projects a story onto a child’s ceiling though (like a high tech mobile).

      Marcy 🙂

  1. All SO true, Marcy. I did not think I’d like a Kindle, then my husband bought one for my birthday 1 1/2 years ago and I love it for all the reasons you listed. It’s just that awesome!! 🙂

  2. I’m not sure I completely agree 🙂 I work in a used bookstore and see lots of young people buying books and loving the smell of books and saying they want to have a huge library when they grow up. I read recently that because kids are so gadget-laden and wired, that they actually like getting away from it a bit with a physical book. I love my Kindle for the reasons you state. I use it to buy books that I just need to read and move on, but some others I just want to own. My theory is, is that Kindle will endanger the mass market paperback trade and that books will revert back to what it was like before paperbacks came around–owning a physical book and having a library of them will be a sign of wealth…

    • I don’t think real books will ever go extinct. I still dream of some day having a library or office with shelves of books, but they’ll be the special ones that I just had to have a physical copy of. Right now, I find it so convenient (my husband and I have very limited living quarters) to be able to buy books and not have to worry about shelf space for them afterward. I think you might be on the right track with ebooks completely replacing the mass market paperback eventually and allowing the hardcover to live. That’ll make my husband really sad though–he hates hardcover versions 🙂

      Marcy

      • Yep, that’s how I see it– the ones I cherish as physical copies. And don’t get me wrong, I buy ebooks too. Oooh, just thought of something, we only buy physical books that are shelf-worthy? I know I’m low on space too…

        Your husband hates HCs? First time I’ve ever heard that, but to each his own, right? 🙂

  3. I used to scoff at ebook readers (not the people reading them, the gadget itself) thinking I would never want to own one. Now I have to eat my words. My girlfriend got a Nook and I find myself coveting it — so many cool features.

    That said, I still adore my paper books, I consider them a part of my life — who I am, and want to continue to be surrounded (not literally) by them. I see Angela’s point, where owning physical books may become a sign of wealth.

    • I’m working on my husband 🙂 I predict that in a year or two he’ll be wanting one of his own 🙂

      I think we’ll always also have bookshelves of our very favorites. There’s something very comforting as a writer being surrounded by physical books.

      Marcy

  4. I’ll be ordering my first Kindle very soon and I’m so excited! For me eBook readers are so much better than normal books because they’re easier to read in bed. I can’t stand trying to prop open a thick book with one hand, then have it wobble and shut and lose my place.

    I have friends who say they will never buy an eBook reader because they love the smell of the book and the feel of it in their hand. To that I say “Meh.” I don’t need paper pages to get lost in a story. I can’t wait to order mine!

    • So true about reading in bed! I can hold my Kindle in one hand and turn to the next page by pressing a button with my thumb. No readjusting and losing my comfy position. No tired hand.

      As for smell, my husband sprung for a leather cover and it smells really good 🙂

      Marcy

  5. There’s a reason I love my Kindle you don’t have listed. I love being able to look up words with the click of my finger. Especially when you read classics, since terminology has changed–or people that write really good historical fiction and are using words I haven’t come across. Move that cursor, and tadaaah. I find I’m wishing for that when I read paper books and come across an unfamiliar term! (Oh, and lest we forget the free titles we can collect!).

  6. I have a Nook, and I’ll be honest, I absolutely love it! It’s the color version, so I’m also able to download *most* of my magazine subscriptions to it, so it truly is a compact and light way to carry magazine and books around with me. The highlighting feature truly is awesome and I don’t think I could like without that.
    That being said – When I come across a book that I absolutely enjoyed, I go out and buy the actual book for my bookshelf (so the author gets a double sale out of me). I’m not sure why, but it most be something about being able to see that book my shelf – that and all of my bookie friends don’t have a Kindle or Nook yet, so I can use the ‘LendMe’ system that Nook has to let them borrow the book, so I lend out the physical book while keeping a copy all to myself 🙂

    • Kindles also let you subscribe to your favorite blogs and have them delivered every time a new post goes up. I can’t get access to that particular feature because I’m in Canada, but I think it’s really cool.

      My library lets you borrow ebooks (a week license at a time). Unlike paper books, no waiting for them. There’s so many ways they’re making things really convenient for readers.

      Marcy

  7. My old books are falling apart. The pages fall out and turn awful shades of yellow and brown.

    Books don’t last forever, even the expensive ones.

    I think e-readers have all the advantages you’ve mentioned. In addition, the lower price to try out books frees me up to try things by authors I might otherwise ignore.

    Disadvantage? Can’t just hand over a book for other people in the household to read when I’m finished with it. Eventually I think we’ll all have e-readers, but not just yet.

    Bathtubs and Kindles also don’t mix.

    Advantages? People with failing vision or arthritis really appreciate the lighter weight and font-size-changeability of a good e-reader.

    I do like a well-made “real” book, but at the prices of a proper hardcover, I want to KNOW I want it on the shelf before I invest. And now that I know how publishing generally works, I can’t count on a paperback ever being put on the shelf.

    Used books help with the budget, but I can’t sacrifice storage space to have to own everything I read. Library copies are fine, but I can’t always get a series read in order without a long wait.

    Thanks for posting your list.

  8. Don’t forget the Nook! That’s what I have and love it. The features are all similar to the Kindle – you can get on the Internet, subscribe to newspapers and magazines, change font, etc. I think the fact that the next generation is tech savvy is the major reason e-books will continue to rise. And my mom – who is FAR from tech savvy – is a huge reader and loves her Nook. It’s lighter and she doesn’t have to leave the house to get a book now.

    Yet another great list of reasons why querying e-publishers is a good decision.

    • Also, about point 3 — you can buy little lights to clip onto your book so you can read and not disturb anyone else. I don’t think that’s an advantage that only e-readers have.

      • I love your post, Eve. I don’t agree with all your points (anymore than you do mine), but it’s so much fun to hear the other side 🙂

        P.S. I tried the little lights that attached onto my real books. I could never find one stable enough for my taste that didn’t damage the pages/cover. Yeah, I’m one of those who can’t stand writing in a book even in pencil 😉 If you know where I could get one online for my husband, though, I’d love to know.

        Marcy

  9. Surprisingly, my hubby is the one who can’t wait to purchase a Kindle. I love my “real” books, but I’m in the paring down and simplifying mode, and the idea of an entire library in the palm of my hand is very appealing. When finances allow, we will both have Kindles, I’m sure. No doubt, there will still be books on my shelves for many years to come.

  10. Pingback: Books vs. e-Readers: Both are here to stay « Angela Quarles

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