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Are E-books the Devil?

July 1, 2014 4:23 pm | 5 Comments

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My official title at Ignatius Press is ‘E-book Editor’, so I’ve had a few people ask me questions like: Can you compare e-books with paperbacks? What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of electronic books? Is this the end of libraries? Is this the beginning of the end of print books? Don’t you miss the smell of real books? Can you borrow/lend e-books? Are e-books the devil? The list goes on… To an avid reader, such as myself, these questions are important, and I’ll try to answer them as best I can.

I began my e-book editing/designing career back in 2009, when Fr. Fessio invited me and two other students from Ave Maria to come to San Francisco for the summer. I had no experience with writing HTML code or OCR text recognition or typesetting or editing (beyond my own school assignments), or publishing for that matter. I came into this field with a clean slate, so I have seen it develop, change, and grow quite a bit. Now, I can tell you exactly what happens to a book, from the time it’s an idea in an author’s head down to the finished, printed and beautifully bound print book and, of course, the e-book.

At first, I wasn’t sure what would happen to the e-book. In 2009, Amazon’s Kindle had only developed the 2nd generation Kindle and it was still over $100. The e-book was only beginning to gain popularity among the traveling businessmen and older rich women who enjoyed carrying their Kindle on airplanes. There were a few problems with e-books, as well: no pages, no page numbers, you can’t view more than one page, no tables, no perfectly clear images, very few text books, very few children’s books, etc.

Then, as time went on, like the digital music and film market, the digital e-book market began to grow and the technology improved. Amazon’s Kindle became more user friendly, and thousands of books became available at the click of a mouse or a flick of the finger. E-books could even be read on iPad, iPone, iPod, etc. Now, some schools are using iPads and Kindles to store text books for their students, which means fewer books to carry home and less strain on your child’s back. Even some children’s books are available in electronic format.

So, what does all this mean for our friendly print books? The ones you can smell, flip through, write in, and are the building blocks of impressive libraries and offices? Well, in my humble opinion, I don’t think we will be saying goodbye to the printing presses anytime soon. Print books still have a lot to offer that e-books simply do not, such as page numbers and columned formatting, better images, tables, etc. Print books are still pretty important to the common world. But, that being said, e-books are kind of great! And here are a few reasons why:

  1. You can carry hundreds, even thousands, of books with you on one device. Being able to carry around your entire library all the time? Um, yes, please.
  2. You can have a book delivered to you within seconds. No more waiting for it in the mail or putting your name on the waiting list at the library. The good Lord knows that patience is not one of my virtues…
  3. You can borrow and lend e-books! Many websites and your local library offer this service. There is a time limit, but you have a due date for borrowed print books, too!
  4. No more bookmarks. Your device can pick up right where you left off… on all the books you are reading.
  5. Don’t know a word? Just click on it and your Kindle dictionary will look it up for you. Bam! New vocabulary!
  6. Bored on your commute? No problem. Your e-reader will read your book to you!
  7. Electronic books make reading ‘cool’, so more kids want to read. And they can help kids learn to read too! (Just as long as they aren’t those ‘enhanced’ e-books with distracting videos and such.)
  8. Are you blind, like me? You can change the font size to fit your reading needs!
  9. You can make notes and highlights, just like in a print book.
  10. You can search your books for terms, words, or phrases. No more indices!
  11. And almost all Ignatius Novels are available as e-books!  :)

 

So, no, e-books are not the devil. And print books are still going to be around for a good while yet. So you can still hold and sniff them to your heart’s content. And enjoying a good e-book every once in a while is not against your religion. Happy reading!

Meryl Kaleida

Meryl Kaleida

Meryl Kaleida is Production Assistant and E-book Editor at Ignatius Press. She is also a guest writer for Catholic Word Report. She graduated from Ave Maria University with a Bachelors in Theology and Literature. Meryl is a wife, gardener, singer, author, chef, artist and lover of truth. Her short story "I Couldn't Help but Notice" is available as an eBook.

Tags: ebooks ebooks versus print books Kindle novels

5 Comments

  1. July 1, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    I love my Kindle! I take it anywhere I may be the victim of a waiting room, for one thing. I suffer less lost time, and enjoy more intellectual stimulation, with my Kindle close at hand. I also find it easier to use than a book when I am lying down, as before sleep. I use it every day. And I have on it, among many other things, several books by Michael D. O’Brien, the Ignatius Bible and the Ignatius Study Bible NT. And the CCC. I would hate to live without it.

  2. July 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Very well said. I swore I would never give up my print books. I liked seeing them in the bookcase. (It’s still full.) But, I found out I can have my cake and eat it, too. :)

  3. July 1, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I’m with William…. all the way. I have several Bibles on there, and the CCD, and Michael O’Brien, and other Ignatius authors.

  4. July 1, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    I have read more books since getting my Kindle 2 years ago than in the previous 10-15 years! I love that I can take it with me and decide which book to read when I have a few spare minutes. I also get Word Among Us delivered each month and I take it to Mass with me. Love it!!

  5. July 2, 2014 at 9:08 am

    I love my Kindle and have been reading e-books for about 4 years now. On top of all the positive qualities you mentioned (with which I readily agree), they are also generally less-expensive than printed books.

    That said, I think e-books and digital media in general IS having an adverse effect on the world of print-media, just as instant downloading and MP3’s are having an adverse effect (with CD stores becoming a thing of the past).

    As a resident of New York City, consider – http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/business/media/bookstores-forsake-manhattan-as-rents-surge.html?_r=0

    “Since 2007, five Barnes & Noble stores throughout Manhattan have closed, including its former flagship store on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street, which was shuttered in January. Five Borders stores in Manhattan were closed in 2011 when the chain went bankrupt, vacating huge spaces on Park Avenue, near Penn Station and in the Shops at Columbus Circle.

    State data reveals that from 2000 to 2012, the number of bookstores in Manhattan fell almost 30 percent, to 106 stores from 150.”

    High city rents and a dwindling economy are contributing factors, but I also think the e-book industry has done some part in diminishing the number of printed-media buyers.

    To conclude, in no way does this make e-books “the devil”: advanced forms of media continually replace the older and deemed “less efficient”. This is the way of the world, and the positive qualities of e-books mentioned are not to be denied.

    We won’t necessarily be saying goodbye to print media — there will be a (smaller) market for printed books just as there are for CD’s, DVD’s or even vinyl records. . . . at the same time, I feel a little sad when I read of yet another book store closing. Consider this a plea: regardless of whether you love your Kindle (or Nook), please don’t forget your neighborhood book store.

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