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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


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.


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.


E-waste is still a huge problem for such devices, though, especially because 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.


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!


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

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF

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