Decision Time: E-Reader vs. Books
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?
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!