Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Digital Age of Books

It seems a major sea change is occurring in the Publishing industry. I know this because I've been reading Publisher's Weekly emails for about 3 weeks now. I hear it only takes 3 weeks to become an expert in a topic.

Or something.

Anyway, so this blurb about Harper Collins releasing only a few audio books on CD and choosing a digital download format for the rest of their spring titles, has me thinking.

How on earth do I download an audio book?!

I understand the concept, it's just that, well, I haven't actually done it yet. I completely get the convenience factor. The multi-disc audio book seems like a for-sure goner. I recently posted about a fantastic audio book I got from the library (Paper Towns by John Green). Sadly, I never got through disc 2 because it stopped working. I have no idea what the problem was, but the rest of the discs refused to work in my car's CD player. Pretty cruel considering the first disc worked fine and the reader of the story was so engaging. I returned the discs and checked out the print version so I could finish the story.

Some libraries already have digitally downloadable books, and I'm thinking that might be a good place to start. Except.. how do I do that? It's silly, really, since I regularly use technology and have a smart phone and all, but for some reason this process seems daunting.

Then there's e books. When I got my new phone, I downloaded the Kindle app. Have I used it? No. Could I? Yes. Will I?


I just need one brave step in this direction. And, coincidentally, I may have found it since a friend said they have free credits I can use at audible, which I had to look up because I'm so out of the loop. But now I know.

Technically proficient readers, what is your favorite way to read a book? Have you embraced ebooks yet?


  1. I like actual books, but only from the library because they're so expensive. The problem with the new media book formats like Kindle and Audible is that they want you to pay for something that has no physical value that is readily copyable that cannot be resold like a book or a CD. Audible and the Kindle books are really into DRM, which makes it harder to use the stuff on different devices.

  2. I still enjoy reading books the traditional way, but e-readers do have some benefits that you won't find in your tattered and dog-eared paperbacks.

    1) Reading on the go; airplane reading. If you're not sure what you'll feel like reading, you can take ALL your books with you, or at least all the ones you've purchased in electronic format. It's also more portable than hardcover and larger tomes.

    2) Reading in bed. With the iPad, I can set the light level to its lowest setting and read without supplemental lighting so as not to disturb my wife. Also, as I mentioned above, it's smaller than many books, so there's not as much danger as dropping Harry Potter 5 on your face in the middle of the night.

    3) Reading at work! That's right, no one questions an iPad on my desk. Positioned strategically next to my monitor, it's quite easy to fill empty moments with some great literary fodder. If I were to bring a paperback to work on the other hand, I'm not sure it would go over quite so well.

    4) Free stuff! With the Kindle app for the iPad, I can download countless public domain titles for free. I've already added "Dracula", the "Tarzan" novels, the "Allan Quartermain" series, and selected works from Jane Austen, HG Wells, GK Chesterton, Alexander Dumas, Charles Dickens, and countless others absolutely free. I suppose you could achieve the same by going to the library, but it's kind of nice to have access to all of these titles at a moment's notice without leaving your home/bed.

    5) Learn stuff / communal reading. With built in dictionaries and cross-references, when you get stumped on a word or phrase, you can pull up quick definitions on the fly. You can also highlight, take notes, and even set up book-reading communities with friends and exchange thoughts on passages. With my (free) bible app specifically, I can switch between dozens of translations, easily search and highlight verses, and upload favorite passages to Facebook with a finger-press.

    So though it's something of a novelty, e-readers offer a new dimension to reading which I find gratifying. Nothing beats the smell and feel of a printed novel, but when you're looking for portability and perhaps a level of flexibility traditionally unavailable, I do recommend finding an excuse to get your hands on a reader.

  3. While actual books are great, and I still prefer them for many things, I do own and enjoy reading from a Kindle.

    The convenience is unbeatable. Especially with apps for phones and iPods and computers. And my sister-in-law has a Nook and it has all the same conveniences.

    While the Kindle might not be the best possible reading experience, it's a good reading experience. So I know if I get a book for the Kindle, I won't have any problems reading it because of the medium. There are books that I've read that either took a longer time to read than they should have or I didn't finish because the physical book didn't feel right (usually too tall or wide or both). With the Kindle I know that won't be an issue.

  4. Those are really good points. I'm definitely pro-digital books, mainly because I'm glad that publishers and authors are making this happen in a more efficient way than the music industry did (which was reluctantly and with gnashing of teeth!). It makes books seem more viable when there are so many ways to access them.

    I like that my smart phone has a Kindle app, but I'm kind of leaning toward an actual e-reader since the screen is so much larger.


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