It's come to my attention that there are still many of you folks out there who don't know how e-books! The word "kindle" means nothing to you, and just the idea of reading a novel on a screen instead of paper makes your skin crawl because it's so unusual. Not to worry, though. I'm devoting this blog post to the basics of e-books/e-readers to help answer some of your questions that you might be too afraid to ask.
1) What is an e-reader?
An e-reader is an electronic device primarily used to read digital books. (Think "E" for "electronic.") Kindle and Nook are the two most popular e-readers today. Here's a commercial for a Kindle:
There's not really much difference between a digital book and a paper book, other than the fact that it's not paper. You still get the same story and cover art, etc. loaded onto your e-reader.
2) How much does an e-reader cost?
E-readers vary in price, and they are getting more affordable every year. A regular Kindle that primarily holds only books costs about $70 right now. But just like there are various types of computers and TV's, there are also a variety of e-readers, some of which have more functions. Some e-readers like the Nook HD are a lot more fancy. They can do more than show books, so they're more expensive. Here's a commercial for the Nook:
3) Where can you get e-readers?
You can buy Kindles from Amazon.com and Nooks from Barnes & Noble (online and in phyiscal stores). Other less popular e-readers like Sony e-readers (which is what I have) can be bought online, as well as in some electronics stores.
4) Can you read e-books without an e-reader device?
Yes, you can! If you have a computer (or a smart phone or an ipad) you can download free programs from Amazon (here) and Barnes and Noble (here). You don't have to spend a penny on the programs ("apps" they call them), and once you have them, you can start buying e-books and reading them on your computer, phone, etc. I have the Kindle app downloaded to my laptop, and I read books that I buy from Amazon on there.
5) I'm scared of the reading experience not being the same on an e-reader as it is with a paper book. How can it be the same?
It won't be the exact same, and that's OK. You won't have pages to turn or a physical book to put on the shelf. But I've asked people who have recently given e-books a try, and they all agree that whether you read a book on paper or on a screen, you still have the same experience of suspense, fear, love, sadness, joy that reading gives. Good stories are good no matter what. If you read them in e-book format, you will remember the stories just the same afterwards and hold them in your memory just as if you'd read them on paper.
6) What are some other benefits to reading e-books as opposed to paper books?
*It saves massive amounts of trees, thus helping out the environment in a big way.
*E-readers also have a function for people to increase the font size, so for those of you who have trouble with your vision, this is a real bonus.
*E-books never get old and dusty, so for those of you allergic to old books (like myself, unfortunately), you never have to worry about having those annoying sneeze attacks.
*E-books are often much cheaper than paper books. (Example: my book Wings of the Divided is only $3.95, which is less than half the price for a regular paperback novel.)
*You have the option to read a sample online of most e-books before you buy them.
*You don't have to leave the house to buy an e-book, and once you buy it online, you can start reading it within minutes!
*(This just added from one of my readers!) You might also point out that most e-readers have built in dictionaries
and all you have to do is highlight a word to define it. Also copy and
paste which comes in handy when you want to email a paragraph or two of
the book you are reading to your friend. And most keep track of where
you are at if you are reading your books on multiple devices.
Portability is probably the coolest thing about E-Readers. You have
access to your entire library wherever you are!
*The new above comment also made me think of another thing: e-readers are fantastic for reading gigantic books like The Stand by Stephen King. I started reading the hardback, but it was enormous AND dusty, so I just got a copy of it for my e-reader, and it's sooo much easier to read.
Remember, just because you choose to read e-books does not mean you have to read only e-books. I read books in all formats. I have that little Sony e-reader that I told you about, and I read some books on that. I buy new paper books, as well as used paper books. And I also have a library card, which I use to borrow both paper and e-books from the local library.
Just imagine this: at one point, telephones were brand new, TV's were brand new, microwaves were brand new, and so-on. Some people resisted these inventions because they liked cooking on a stove, for instance, or preferred to listen to shows on the radio...but they also, deep down, didn't understand the technology and were a little afraid of the new devices. Please don't be afraid of this new book technology. Sometimes change can be a good thing!
If you have any more questions about e-readers or e-books, please don't hesitate to ask. Questions and comments are always welcome!
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