If 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?