Book Nerd Problems #10: E-Books and E-Readers, YAY or NAY?

Posted May 18, 2013 by Debby in Book Nerd Problems, Discussions / 30 Comments

This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the many problems one can run into as a book nerd.

#10. E-Books and E-Readers, YAY or NAY?

I’m not sure this topic has been fully exhausted yet in the book blogging world, but I do always like giving my own view on things. So today I want to talk about e-books. In fact, this is inspired by one of my lectures at university, where we talked about how e-books are quite a radical innovation with a lot of potential (still).

Anyway. I own an e-reader, more specifically: the Sony Reader, and I love it to bits. I particularly love it because it’s space saving (as I’ve mentioned multiple times, I live in one room, with absolutely no space for books anymore), it has easy annotation & dictionary options (which I majorly abuse), and, of course, it’s light and portable. If asked, I will always honestly say that I prefer physical books. As a true book nerd, I don’t think anything could beat that feeling of holding a book in your hands (and the smell, mmm!). So I will never fully substitute physical books with e-books. But I wouldn’t only buy physical books if I had the money, space, ________ either. I have to have a fair balance of both.

But I’m wondering where most of you stand on this issue. I’ve spoken to many people about this. For book bloggers, I think, there’s an added bonus to having an e-reader because of the ability to read e-ARCs and e-galleys that are easier to acquire than print ARCs or galleys. But a lot of the readers I’ve spoken to can’t ever imagine switching over because they’ll miss the feeling of the book in their hands, or they just don’t want another gadget, etc. etc. etc. So let’s look some of the pros and cons. Let me know if I missed any!

Pros

      • Books are way more portable and more or less weightless.
      • It saves an awful lot of shelf space.
      • Immediacy and ease of purchase.
      • It’s more “green” – no paper wasted.
      • There’s a huge variety of smaller authors.
      • It’s anonymous – for when you’re reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
      • Books are never “out of print”.
      • They can be much cheaper than print copies.
      • Extra options, like annotations and dictionaries.

Cons

      • No more of that “book” feeling (or smell, you book sniffers, you).
      • It just goes against the established norm.
      • No more books to decorate bookshelves and bookcases.
      • Missing that in-store book buying experience.
      • It’s way less fun to give/receive e-books as presents.

In the News…

To be honest, so far, the potential of the e-books has been underutilized. That’s why design and innovation consulting firm IDEO developed some ideas for how to further revolutionize the concept.



  1. Nelson connects books to commentary, critique, and contextual information, letting readers explore a topic from multiple perspectives. Layers of connected commentary, news, and fact-checking augment the core book contentβ€”providing greater context and encouraging debate and scrutiny.
  2. Coupland makes book discovery a social activity by allowing readers to build shared libraries and hear about additional texts through existing networks. Personal recommendations, aggregation of reading patterns, and the ability to follow inspiring individuals and groups help ensure that Coupland users always are tapped into the latest essential content.
  3. Alice turns storytelling on its head by making narratives non-linear and participatory. With Alice, the story world starts bleeding into the everyday life of the reader. Real-world challenges, like acting on a phone call from the lead character, or participating in photo based scavenger hunts, unlock new aspects of the story, and turn other readers into collaborators or competitors. Alice is a platform for authors to experiment with narratives, to allow their stories to transcend media, and to engage fans in the storytelling process.Β 
Give me Alice! Gimme! Now! How cool is that? Completely changes the traditional narrative. Sadly… these ideas were announced in 2010 and nothing has been heard from them since. Publishers, what are you waiting for? Is it too big a leap? Too revolutionary? It’s got to put quite a strain on authors as well, so, all in all, I guess I understand. I just want to see this happen.

Let’s Talk!

Enough of my opinion, what about you?
Do you have an e-reader or not? Why or why not?
What do you think about an idea like Alice?

Let me know in the comments!

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30 responses to “Book Nerd Problems #10: E-Books and E-Readers, YAY or NAY?

  1. I actually just got a Nook – an old B&W model – a few months ago. I got it solely for NetGalley and indie books, and only after months and months of debate. Even though I have it and really have gotten a lot of good books out of it, I'd still call myself a book traditionalist. I can't imagine ever having the same reading experience off of a screen as real ink on real paper. I'm a shameless book sniffer, so…there's that. :/ Also, I just love bragging and showing off my ever-growing book collection. Having bags and boxes of books in addition to the main shelf and ghetto-ized stacked shoe-boxes I use just works so much better than showing a small electronic thingy and saying, "Yeah, this is really 300 books."
    My recent post Indie Spotlight Book Review – In Your Dreams by Amy Martin

  2. Since the commenting system is telling me my reply was too long for some reason, I split it into two. So here's Kelly Pt. 2.

    And I'd say a con for e-readers (or maybe pro for physical books) would be that you don't have to worry about the battery dying on physical copies. :p I have a habit of forgetting to charge my Nook so I've had that happen to me, so frustrating.

    By the way, I don't think my techno-tarded self would know what to do with the Alice. But as long as it produces quality content and doesn't just rely on the gimmick, it could be So. Freaking. Cool. They need to hurry up with that one.

    Great post! I'm always getting into the E-reader Vs. Physical Book discussions/debates with my reader friends.
    My recent post Indie Spotlight Book Review – In Your Dreams by Amy Martin

  3. ReemAdelEid

    Wow! This Alice idea is amazing. but being the pessimist that I am, I think it wouldn't allow the reader to focus on the book at hand. Too much distractions. But just to think, actual phone calls and messages and hidden plot twists. Awesome!
    As to ebook vs real book, in theory, the ebook always wins. The fact that no paper is wasted with ebooks is why I always feel guilty about being physical books. Could you imagine if all the text books and novels were in digital form, how much contribution to the environment that would be?! But then again, I always prefer the physical book. Sure, it's more expensive, more space consuming, but the nerd in me won't be persuaded other wise. Just the smell of new book…

    Great post Debby!
    My recent post Why Girls Hate Game of Thrones

  4. achoquet

    I do not own an e-reader, and it's something I was totally against before, but with me studying abroad in the fall I feel like I have no other choice. I can't drag a bunch of books with me there, and once there I don't want to buy a bunch of books and not be able to take them home. I guess I could use a library, but I prefer owning books I read so I just can't do it! So for me, the appeal of an e-reader is practicality. I think I will always prefer to read a physical book and would do so when choosing between the two, but there are times when e-readers are the better choice.

    In regards to news, Alice sounds interesting! It sort of reminds me of books where you can call a number or go to a website to get a clue. Only in those books they don't change based off what you do, so you can skip them and still end up with the same story. It definitely sounds much more interactive and engaging this way!

    I also think it would just be cool to make books interactive between friends. Like maybe this is already done… but similar to the soundcloud where while you're listening to a song comments pop up. I think it'd be fun to read a story and have your friend's notes or thoughts about certain passages pop up while you read them. Or maybe that'd be distracting. Hmmm….
    My recent post Bookish Life: MIA for my LDR!

  5. I recently got a new e-reader (Kobo Glo) and I love it! It's so easy to bring with me and like you said: it's much easier to read your eARC's on. But, I'll never stop buying paperbacks. There is nothing that can beat the feeling of walking out a store with some new books πŸ˜€ I always like to put them on the shelves so I can look at them πŸ™‚
    My recent post Fairytale News 10. About DNF.

  6. acps927

    I have a Nook, and I enjoy it, but I do agree with you that it doesn't replace the feeling of a true book in her hand. But I do prefer it for taking with me to work, the doctor's office, etc., and what's also great is that I can borrow free e-books through my library and download them into my Nook temporarily, all online and without having to go there in person! When I'm deciding whether to buy an ebook or a physical book, I usually go with the cheapest way.

    Alice sounds interesting, and part of me thinks I would like it, but another part of me thinks I would get a little annoyed with it, like it might start feeling like too much supplemental material. Either that or I would get so caught up in it that I would get lost along the way while trying to read the story. It's hard to say. Maybe they're having a hard time figuring out how exactly they would reign it all in.
    My recent post Wednesday Round-Up: Marissa Meyer and TV Shows Galore

  7. dKatrina

    I used to be totally against ereaders. I was one of those people who swore up and down that they'd never get an ereaders because it 'ruins the sanctity of reading and all things bookish'. Ugh. Annoying, I know. Now, I love ebooks. I still wouldn't buy an ereader with my own money since I wouldn't buy that many ebooks anyway. But I do read quite a lot on my iPod, mostly titles from Netgalley or Edelweiss. Why battle the change that's inevitably going to come? Just roll with it, people. And it's not like the printed page is going away any time soon.
    My recent post Stacking the Shelves

  8. I used to be one of those physical book purists who couldn't stand the thought of reading a book without the familiar scent of pages. My resistance towards e-readers wavered when I struggled to read e-galleys without one and when i realized that ebooks are much more budget-friendly than the hardbacks at my local bookstore. Right now i'm a proud owner of a Kobo Glo and I adore it. I love that I can read at night and take hundreds of books with me. I still prefer physical books over digital ones, though :p

    – Ellie at The Selkie Reads Stories

  9. Brittany S

    I was SO against ereaders for the longest time! I said, Give me physical copies or give me death!!! THAT WAS, until I found out about Netgalley and Edelweiss and all of the egalley possibilities out there!! Then I had to figure out how I was going to read all these amazing egalleys! I finally broke down and bought the cheapest Kindle possible and it was okay. Then I won a Kindle Paperwhite and, um. I love it. I've gotten used to reading on an ereader and actually kind of like it a lot! But still, physical copies will always be number 1, always get read first, and always be my favorites πŸ™‚

  10. I don't own an ereader just yet, I mostly read the ebooks on my laptop (I'm almost always online anyway). But I do plan to buy one, probably a Kindle Fire though it does have storage limitations. So even though I do own a lot of ebooks and a lot of physical books, I am okay with reading ebooks just as long as I get to read a physical book now and then. As an almost environmentalist, I try to adjust to reading ebooks and I think I'll once I own an ereader.

    But yeah, physical books rock.
    My recent post Review: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

  11. I used to be completely against the idea of ebooks, it seemed extremely sacrilegious to me. That said, since getting a smart phone I've started reading ebooks more and more. I still don't have an ereader but I'm not as wildly against the idea as I used to be and if I'm honest, I'll probably buy one before too long. I definitely still prefer traditional books, more for sentimental than practical reasons (smell, touch, sound, etc. plus I kind of like living in a giant pile of books although my bf doesn't exactly agree).

    Sometimes if I read an ebook that I love (like, OMG, this is a going on my favorites shelf love) I'll go out and buy a hard copy because I want to have the "real" version as well. Obsessive? Maybe. Smart? Probably not, this habit most likely has something to do with why I'm broke all the time because if I'm honest, a lot of books are my absolute favorite. Satisfying? Absolutely. πŸ˜€

  12. Oh yeah, the battery dying was in my mind, but I never really see that as a problem since the battery life is SO LONG and the charging time is really short. But I suppose that could be a con as well.

    Haha, I agree with you about bragging. It's so difficult to brag and show off with an e-reader. Then again, I have ALREADY reached the point where people enter my room and are like, "woooaaaahhhh books….." with my meager collection. So. I don't suppose I'm missing out on that one, haha.

    I want Alice so badly T_T It could be really freaking awesome.

  13. I dunno, with Alice, I think it's probably just a much more immersive experience. It'll come down to the author to ensure there aren't too many gimmicky elements that get away from the story at hand. The concept clearly needs to be fleshed out. I'd love to see it happen though!.

    Yeah, if we switched to only e-books the environmental impact would be incredible. But indeed, the smell and look of books on a shelf… I couldn't ever give that up!

    Thank you πŸ™‚

  14. Yeah, considering how much I move between two continents, an e-reader was a pretty obvious choice for me as well. Transporting books is just so much trouble. And I'm with you with the library thing… Not owning books feels so… sad. πŸ™

    Yes! It totally made me think of that as well. Or the choose-your-own-ending kind of book. And I want those so badly. I wish it would happen.

    Hmm, I think that idea would be way too distracting. I already have to tell myself to turn off Twitter when I'm reading, haha. Though I suppose it would be interesting… I'll have to think on that one!

  15. I couldn't even imagine reading eARCs on my computer or my phone or something… so I'm glad I already had my e-reader. That must be hell on the eyes. And YES to books on the shelves. That's one of the first things I always say. I can't live without pretty, filled bookcases in my house. That would be totally depressing.

  16. Yeah, I'm also one of those cheap-os who will just go for the cheapest option. So I like that about e-readers, and the portability is definitely a huge bonus.

    Yeah, I think the challenge with Alice will be to have the right balance of reading material and immersive material. And I don't suggest either that books should only be like that. But to have the option to read a couple of books that way. It's definitely a great concept that still needs quite a bit of refining.

  17. Hahaha, I don't blame you. It is a HUGE change, for sure, and most readers take a while to pass that hurdle. Does reading it on your iPod hurt your eyes though? I just think that screen is way too small, but that's just me. And I definitely agree, e-books will never fully replace printed books, so no worries here!

  18. Yeah, I think for us book bloggers who get e-galleys, an e-reader is pretty much a must have. I think that's what has convinced most of us to purchase one. But yes, physical books will always be the preferred format.

  19. Haha, it's interesting to hear these opinions. You're definitely not the only one. It seems like most people were really skeptical, but after some use, fell in love. I'm one of those as well. And YES. When I have a physical copy, I almost always pick that up first.

  20. Yeah, I think for environmentalists, an e-reader is an obvious choice. Doesn't reading ebooks on your laptop hurt your eyes after a while though? I think I would also get way too distracted, since I always have my email and Twitter open and stuff. *sigh* I hope you enjoy the Kindle πŸ™‚

  21. Hehe, you're not the only book purist out there. But reading on a smartphone, doesn't that hurt your eyes and isn't the screen too small? I dunno, my e-reader was pretty much one of the best investments I ever made. I'm with you on the sentimental value of physical copies though, for sure. I do feel more attached to those.

    YES. I'm the same. My favorite books I HAVE to have in hard copy. So if that means buying them twice, that's the price I have to pay. Literally. So YES. *HIGH FIVE* πŸ˜€

  22. Judith

    I also have a Sony, got it just a month or so ago, and I love it so much more than I'd thought I would. The easy access to books and how I can now read them everywhere so easily is a real plus. I don't think anything will ever be better than real books (I'm not trying to collect all the pretty leatherbound books for nothing lol) but I think an ereader is very useful. Plus, as a blogger, it's almost a necessity. But whenever I read a REALLY good book, I'll buy a real copy as well πŸ™‚

  23. Oooh I'm glad you are happy with it πŸ™‚ And I'm with you there, my favorite books I HAVE to have in hard copy. I mean, how else can I shove it in peoples' faces and stuff? It's just not the same πŸ˜›

  24. I know right! I never would have survived reading Jane Austen without my e-reader, I think. Same for Lord of the Rings. Kind of sad to admit, but I really stink with the bigger words. x_x

  25. Yeah, after just experiencing the convenience of an e-reader for a little bit, it's hard to imagine life without it. And I'm with you- I have a tablet as well, but I don't think I could ever really read on there — too many distractions.

  26. I was so excited the first time I got an e-reader, I no longer had to cart around several books in a purse that was bigger than my dog!
    I miss physically reading books on occasion, though I do have all of my old favorites all over my house. As a whole though, I love the fact that my iPad and my iPhone will sync my bookmarks and I can continue reading wherever I go. πŸ™‚

    Mei @ Diary of a Fair Weather Diver

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