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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Decision Time: E-Reader vs. Books

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 8:00 AM

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This isn't social media related per se, but here's my dilemma. I'm on the fence about the Kindle, especially since I keep reading about the slow extinction of print everything and don't want to contribute to that. Also, maybe I feel some hipster guilt about e-books generally. What's your take? Should I cave to technology peer pressure? Is this just embracing the future?

~Book Lover



You know, I love technology. I love that I can play Scrabble, listen to Glee songs at a really low volume so no one knows I'm not listening to TV On The Radio or some other socially sanctioned band, and post a blog on my iPhone all while waiting for the bus. I love that Twitter enables me to experience the profound insights of 50 Cent on a daily basis, such as, "I can't belive my grandmother's making me take out the garbage I'm rich fuck this I'm going home I don't need this shit." I love that I can find an apartment, a job, and a blow job with a few clicks on Craigslist.


But when it comes to books, the future can embrace its cold, glossy

exterior with my fist! Reading, for me, is a pleasure that should not be

experienced on an LCD screen. E-mail is great, but love letters are

better. I want to smell a book's crisp pages, run my hands over its

binding, marvel at the oily dents my fingers have created by re-reading

the same favored passage over and over. Books are my muse and my

dominatrix. They are meant to be adored.

That said, I am an

avowed bisexual, and I see everything both ways. Here are some non-ranty

pros and cons of Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other e-readers.

Pro: The e-reader is lighter, weighing 8.5 ounces. Your average book weighs 12 ounces. A hardback weighs about two pounds.

Con: Seriously? Your pansy-ass hipster arms can't hold a two-pound book? You're an embarrassment to asymmetrical haircuts.

Pro: You can safely read your Girl With The Dragon Tramp Stamp books without anyone on the bus being the wiser.

Con:

You can't flirt with cute, bookish strangers or strike up conversations

if no one knows what the hell you're reading. One of my favorite urban

bonding moments occurred when a girl and I realized we were reading the

same Annie Proulx book on the train. Takeaway: You cannot e-drop e-asily

with e-readers.  

Pro: E-books are cheaper, and they're free if the copyright has expired, meaning you can download most of the classics for zilch.

Con: You're screwing the writers. The average author royalty per book is $3.90. Per download it's $2.12. Also, are you really going to read all 1,200 pages of War and Peace just because it's free? That's what I thought, asshole.

Pro: The carbon footprint of e-readers is way smaller than the carbon footprint of producing print books.

Con:

E-waste is still a huge problem for such devices, though, especially because Amazon.com will no doubt keep making newer versions of the Kindle, thus

rendering older ones obsolete -- or at least less desirable. Plus, spill coffee on a book, no problem -- or, at worst you'll need a new book.

Spill coffee on a Kindle, and you've just made yourself a really

expensive coaster. Of course, renting books from your local library remains the most cost-effective, best-for-the-planet approach to reading.

Pro: It's great for travel, and many people say owning an e-reader has significantly increased their reading habits.

Con: It's great for travel, but now you have another electronic thing to worry about recharging/getting stolen/leaving on the airplane.

That said, I heartily support more people reading, especially because

Oprah has stopped being the sole cause for most Americans to pick up

books. Here's a different con though: It seems like almost daily, I'll

read (yes, on the Internet) about a local book store closing. Hell, even megagiant Borders filed for bankruptcy in February. This makes me sad.

Pro:

There's a built-in dictionary and translator for foreign language text.

Plus, you can increase or decrease the font size to accommodate your

level of blindness.

Con: If you're not blind already, print remains the easiest on the eyes.

There you have it. It's a tie. Everyone wins when you're booksexual!

Social-media

mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with

others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette

involving technology, shoot her a question at AskAnnaSF@gmail.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF

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Anna Pulley

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