Ebooks: Books to Binary

I had told Smita and Shilpa two of my great blog buddies that I would do a post on e-readers because I was seriously convinced that I would buy one. Now that I have got a tablet for myself with primary objective of switching my reading digitally; I feel that I am ready to do a post as I have experienced the digital reading first hand.

It was a very tough decision to let go the habit of buying the physical books and switch to digital formats. As a matter of fact I remember in one of the posts I had written that I would never like to switch to digital reading but then people change over time. As any change you bring about there are both positive and negative aspects of switching your reading digital. To provide an objective perspective I will enlist the advantages and disadvantages of reading the books digitally.

Advantages-

1-      Space: The space crunch especially for people living in the apartments is a perennial problem. Just to highlight the economic impact, ideally a physical book takes around 0.25 SQFT of space and the rentals in Bangalore around Rs. 15/SQFT/month, keeping a book for a month costs Rs. 3.75. For a person like me who has a collection close to 500 books presently, I am paying close to 2000 bucks for keeping the books. This was the major motivation for me to make the switch, after exhausting almost all the space I had in my home for books I didn’t have place to keep the new ones.

2-      Convenience: A tablet or a reader can hold multiple books at the same time so you can carry all of them with ease while travelling. You save yourself from the task of selecting what books to carry when you are on the move; also it reduces the baggage weight which is of paramount importance in flights. There have been times that I actually had to discard books on the airport because airlines were expecting me to pay Rs 300/Kg for the excess baggage.

3-       Privacy: A lot of times while reading you would not want the world to know what you are reading. Online reading ensures that anybody passing by doesn’t know what you are reading. I got a lot of weird stares from people in general when I was reading 50 Shades of Grey, so digital reading might save me some unwanted attention.

4-      Maintenance: Keeping the books and shelves clean when you have so many books is a herculean tasks which is not required for the tablets. Also disposing books is also not an issue you can simply archive and retrieve when you want to read again.

5-      Multiple Devices: I have multiple devices like a smart phone, tablet and a laptop whatever I am reading is available and synced on all the devices. So no matter where I am I would have my reading material. There have been times when I have gone for a meeting and had to wait for the other person. I wasn’t carrying my tablet but I continued my reading on the phone and once I reach home I can continue the book from where I left on my phone.

6-      Reference & Sharing: You can easily bookmark pages, refer to dictionaries and share lines/quotes directly with just few clicks which make the reading a more fulfilling experience. In physical books to do all this you have to ear mark books, sit with a dictionary and a computer which is cumbersome.

Disadvantages-

1-      Look & Feel: It takes a bit of time and effort to get adjusted to reading on the digital formats. For me the Sepia mode on the tablet worked very well. However, if you still feel that you don’t like the backlit displays try Kindle Paperwhite (in India it is available for Demo in Croma) which is closest to the real paper.

2-      Handling: The tablets and e-readers are electronic devices and their handling has to be more delicate compared to books.

3-      Lending: I am not sure if this is a advantage or a disadvantage  but being digital you cannot share or lend your books J

4-      Lack of Books: This is a problem when it comes to Indian Authors, not all titles are available online. Sometimes the Indian books are ridiculously priced too, for example Sidin’s latest book “Who Let The Dork Out” was initially priced at 10.58$ while the physical on flipkart is Rs. 121. Though later the prices were rationalized at 2$ but this kind of discrepancies exist.

5-      Charging: The digital format requires charging of the devices at regular interval. Though there are some Kindle devices which last for a month with a single charge but overall most devices need constant charging. The devices I have used are fine if you charge them once in couple of days and I haven’t been left stranded without charge till now, so I guess it is not a deal breaker.

So this is my take on the E-readers and tablets for reading. For people interested I am using Amazon Kindle App on Nexus 7 for my reading.

10 comments on “Ebooks: Books to Binary”

  1. Bindu Reply

    Got a Kindle as a gift some time back, got hooked on to it at first and now back with books 🙂

    Youe calculation on space was mind boggling , interesting way to look at it. But yes, it is very very useful while travelling, you don’t have to carry around too much wait.

    Kindle is easy on the eyes as well

    • Prats Reply

      @Bindu: Any specific reasons for switching back to books? It was a tough decision to avoid the books but had to be taken otherwise I would have been thrown out of home.

      • Bindu Reply

        Missed that connect, I think it is that physical feeling of having something live in your hands. Kindle is too impersonal 🙂

  2. Ramesh Reply

    Very sober and comprehensive post of the pros and cons. Logically what you say is very true – electronic is the way to go. But for old timers like me, the switch is very very difficult. The feel of the book, the thin film of dust, maybe even the musty smell are all part of the experience !!! I can’t imagine curling up in bed on a rainy day with a Kindle in hand, however logical that may be !!!

    The next generation will of course have a very different perspective. I am afraid, books will become a museum piece, just as writings on papyrus went.

    There is however a catch to this. Writings on stone , from history have lasted this long and succeeding generations have been able to read and understand.Even paper writing is not so bad although they will last for a much shorter duration. Imagine what will happen to electronic media – can we even access something that was on 8” floppies just 20 years ago. Will history die ????

    • Prats Reply

      @Ramesh: I know what you mean by the touch, feel and smell of the old books. You won’t believe I often go to Blossoms book store in Bangalore for the experience of the old books. I am not sure how this content will be passed to the generations to come but the fact is more and more content is going digital there will be ways where the form of content will evolve. Take VCRs & CDs for example, the VHS tapes gave way to CDs the content/movies which were worth and demanded by consumers are all available on CDs. I believe the content will evolve on new mediums when it will be important and demanded if it is not then probably it is already junk and is meant to roll over and die.

  3. Shilpa Garg Reply

    That’s a fabulous analysis of books vis-a-vis e-books. The per square rental calculation is super cool!
    I am travelling tomorrow to Shimla and I plan to read 50 Shades of Grey on my Tablet 😛 I have tried many times but given up e-book reading after a few pages whereas the same book in physical form, holds my interest without any problem. I guess, its a matter of getting used to a particular thing. But, I am keen to switch to e-reading.

  4. Swaram Reply

    Hmmm I was not very sure how I would take to e-reading when I bought the Kindle. Infact, I thought I could never ever make the switch from physical books. I am used to the Kindle now and esp. find it great for commute/ travel times.

  5. swalia Reply

    I bought myself kindle as a diwali gift this year and I am loving it! Apart from the advantages you have mentioned, you have a whole world of ebooks at your disposal for free 🙂

  6. Gargi Reply

    Loved this post and your reasonings. I’m still in a half-and-half state. The libraries nearby feed my obsession for print books and Amazon supplies me with Kindle books. I totally agree with your 4th disadvantage. It’s a huge issue not to find books by Indian authors on the Kindle. For that I have the libraries. I’m pretty sure, though, that by this year or next I might be Kindle-only.

  7. Destination Infinity Reply

    I was reading a very few books until I bought the Kindle. Now I am reading more than 3-4 books every month and that is huge for a slow reader like me. The choices available on the Kindle is mind-boggling. I simply have the biggest bookstore in my hands! Second, it’s easy to evaluate and choose the best books in any genre – ratings and reviews help a lot. Kindle is also easy on the eyes, unlike LCD screens. I deliberately chose the Kindle over a tablet.

    Destination Infinity

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