As thousands of you already know, BarnesandNoble.com recently launched its eBooks store and just yesterday sent out a mass email (Free B&N eReader -- Plus 6 eBooks on Us!) offering up a free eReader application for personal computers, iPhones and BlackBerry devices. The Barnes & Noble eReader gives readers access to 700,000 titles!

I browsed through all of BarnesandNoble.com’s science fiction and fantasy eBook offerings and was pleasantly surprised: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Laurell K. Hamilton’s Skin Trade, From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris, Stephenie Meyer’s The Host, Simon R. Green’s The Man with the Golden Torc, and hundreds of other releases from authors like James Patterson, Terry Brooks, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Karen Chance, Guy Gavriel Kay, the list goes on and on.

It looks like most eBooks are selling between $7.99 and $9.99 apiece – essentially the cost of a paperback – and readers don’t have to waste time and money driving to a brick-and-mortar bookstore to get their literary fix. They only have to press a button on their keyboard and within seconds, they have a completely downloaded book.

This idea of electronic books has been around for decades but it never seemed to be universally embraced by the reading public. But, as Dylan so brilliantly put it almost 50 years ago, the times they are a-changin’ and it seems like the world is finally ready for downloadable books. It’s a divisive topic though – I know quite a few fellow reviewers who refuse to write reviews using eBooks, they want a book in their hands. But I also have friends who travel quite a bit and these eBooks are a godsend for them. Instead of lugging around two or three hardcovers, all they need is their laptop or BlackBerry.

There’s also the economic and ecological aspect – how much money does it cost publishers to print and ship hundreds of thousands of books? Not to mention the time and money spent by bookstores to box and return old titles? And how many trees are destroyed to create these books? It seems to me that eBooks are a no-brainer when it comes to saving money and saving the planet…

…but what about singular experience readers have holding a book, soaking in the cover art and design, smelling the pages, etc? Will reading an electronic book diminish the experience? Or is this the shape of things to come? As a science fiction fan, I think this innovation is exciting – and I’m really thrilled that BarnesandNoble.com is jumping in the deep end with it – but there’s something about it that makes me melancholic as well. Instead of bookshelves, we’re just going to have a folder on our computer containing all of our old downloads.

Are books eventually going to disappear – like the vinyl record and the daily newspaper and the woolly mammoth? I hope not…. I don't think that I could live without books. They've become an integral part of my existence. I'm all for eBooks as an optional format – I love the concept, in fact, and know that there is definitely a growing market for downloadable books – but personally, if I had the choice, I'd prefer a real book. I can't imagine downloading a new release that I've been really looking forward to reading, wrapping myself up in my favorite blanket and curling up on the couch with my laptop. Does that make me a Neanderthal? If so, point me to the nearest cave...

 

 

Comments
by KekeJ on ‎07-29-2009 11:05 AM
My eyes feel tired and itchy when I think about ebooks.
by carmen22 on ‎07-29-2009 01:01 PM

I think ebooks are really cool for trips and such, so you don't have like 20 Lbs of books in your luggage. Plus, you don't have to be as decisive at what books you will be taking with you, because you can take several and still have room for more!However, I love my books! It's a wonderful thing to be able to sit by the pool, in your bed, or on the couch, and enjoy the nice smell, the cover, and all the wonderful qualities of a good handheld book!

by canders on ‎07-29-2009 01:47 PM
I have a Kindle (I know, a bad word here, right?) but most days enjoy it. Sometimes I get the desire for a real book though and I have to read one of them too. Glad to see so much of the industry stepping on board with the ebooks. I am sure they are the future and the more people who provide them, the more competition on prices and such.
by on ‎07-29-2009 04:33 PM

I think ebooks are okay for traveling but I still prefer to have the real thing in my hand.  My eyes just stay glued to the screen for hours on end and I wouldn't get any work done because I would want to read.  Also I like to have something to look at if I'm going to be spending my money.  How many books could you keep without having to delete some for new ones.  I just start stacking.

 

Toni 

by Bradinator1 on ‎07-29-2009 05:22 PM

I spend all day at work blurring my eyes working on a computer. I read books to get away from everday life. I can't really picture myself sitting at home on the computer, after 8+ hours of it at work. I'm reminded of how my family only wants to send me pictures on the computer instead of a hard copy pic in the mail. On the computer I look at 'em and delete em. The hard copy pics go in an album ( or on the mantle)that I can pull out and enjoy any ol time I want (without annoying downloading, etc). Books are much the same. I love going through my shelves, and figuring out "what's next?" . I see the use for the application, it's just not for me I guess. Make room in that cave, Paul!

 

Brad

by on ‎07-29-2009 06:37 PM
I will be in the cave. I can't give up reading a real book. I like to collect them. I like to carry them wherever I go. I have tried to listen to audio books on my ipod at work, it just wasnt' the same. I have tried 'See Inside'  that Barnes and noble has for some books. It is in a nice book format, but it just isn't the same as reading a real book. So I lose interest and have to buy the book. I know someone with a Kindle, it just doesn't feel right.
by on ‎07-29-2009 08:44 PM

Better make room for me in the cave and I will bring a few extra cushions but i definitly will take the books,

 

Toni

by on ‎07-29-2009 08:56 PM

Except for the convience of being able to get the book right away, I don't see any real value in it. They are not any cheaper than a paperback book so why not get the real thing. If they were a real bargain because of all that money the publishers and distributors are saving that might be different for "throw-awaoy" books. And then there is the cost of the reading device -- and you need something. And learning how to use it. 

 

I love getting a book in the mail or picking it up at the store. There is a certain excitement attached to it. Probably as much as actually reading the book and probably why I have so many TBR books. There is something about ownership -- and knowing you control the fact that you own it. If the publisheror distributor discontinues it, you still have it.

 

I'm a bit old fashion anyway. I like to curl up with a real book. I can watch movies online for free and instantaneously at NetFlix but I never have. I like having the DVD and playing on my own machine. If I like it well enough, I will actually buy it even though I can get any time I want to for my monthly fee.

 

I know I can create fantastic art quickly and easily using a computer, but I prefer the old fashion way of picking up a paint brush and creating the art the slow old fashion way with my own two hands. Ditto for photography -- I still like the simpler old film cameras. I like to go to a national park and take a picture myself even though I can buy postcards and books in the park store with a similar photo. I was there, I had the experience, and I took the picture. I can see spectacular pictures of stars on a computer and simulated skys. But I prefer looking through a telescope myself or just looking up at the actual sky and, though it is harder and less spectacular, it is far more satisfying. I can see gorgious pictures of flowers in print or on a computer but I still like to go out and actually see the real flower growing and smell it and touch it. there is a lot for climbing the mountain itself rather than watching someone else do it on National Geographic. I still like meeting friends in person, and mabye talking with them at dinner rather than talking to them on a cell phone while gobling down some fast food hamburger.

 

All these technological things focus on the visual or maybe audio  but the pleasure comes from using all your senses including touch, smell, and the kinetic feel of doing something by moving you muscles. By participating in the process. We take away some of our participation when things are too quick and stripped down and turn them and less satifying experiences. I like taking the time and savoring it. There is something about actually participating in the process that we lose with quidk and easy electronics.

by Liago on ‎07-30-2009 08:39 AM

I too am for the solid book in my hands. Stareing at a screen is not for me especially on a small device. Can you imagine sitting in bed with your children trying to read them a bedtime story on a blackberry?

 

I can see how publishers etc would want this because without the costs of printing yet selling at the same price it must be a great deal for them. One other thing I wonder. If this really catches on what will it do to our Librarys?

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎07-30-2009 09:36 AM

I love the feel of a book in my hand, love walking through a book store or browsing in library shelves, but even on those shelves at the book store and even the library there are downloadables available. I happen to serve on the Board of Directors of my library district and am amazed at how much the downloadbles have increased in just the last year and I work full time for a graphic design company and believe me, we have seen the decrease in paper products which makes our web division a must. So yes I think that ebooks and e-everything will have a prominent place in the future not just because of wanting it now without having to leave our laptop, but also because of the ecology issue, companies that used to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual report have a hard time telling their stockholders why they should still do that when half of the time it gets pitched. So we all have to be more accountable for how we use the natural resources we have left.

But I'm with you Paul I hope I never face the issue of not being able to buy an actual bound and printed book.

So the dilemma continues. 

by drthmik on ‎07-30-2009 10:44 AM

They have potential

 they are:

Cheeper to distribute and copy

mobility (depending on situation)

storage space

 

BUT!

currently they have almost nothing really going for them.

they cost the same as an actual hard copy real paper book despite reduced production costs

the file can be corrupted or accidently deleated

e-Reader "books" are expensive pieces of technology

a laptop weighs WAY more than a couple paperbacks and is harder to use anywhere and also there's the limited battery life to consider

 

paperbacks do not have a 3-4 hour battery life

 

 a blackberry or iPhone can play a book on CD if you rip it to MP3sand the player uses less battery life than the screen.

 

backlit screens like blackberries and laptops can cause eye strain after hours of reading. this is why they invented the expensive eReaders.

 

plus the security they put on the files to prevent illegal copying and distribution limits them in many ways.

 

paper books are simple, cheep, easy to use, hard to destroy accidentally, require little to no power to use, easy to share with freinds. they have no eye strain causing back lit screens, do not generate heat, will not crash or become corrupted.they provide a multi scensory expirience and are relatively easy to store and transport (at least in small numbers)

by on ‎07-30-2009 11:37 AM

Well, I think we are all in good company in that cave.  I will have to join you there.  Do we have a comfy couch and good reading lights?   I much rather have a book in my hands also.

 

I agree with all said above in other posts.  I like Brad spend my day on the computer at work.  The words on the screen start doing tricks for me after a while.  I much rather read a book, the page colors are not as intense as a screen.  Carman mentioned sitting by the pool and reading a book.  What would happen if she was by the pool with a laptop or even an iphone reading and the kids splashed?  I would much rather have a book at that point, they dry out a lot easier and cheaper.

 

If you have all these books on your computer, just think you would have to have a backup copy on a disc, sorry cd, somewhere incase the computer went down for any reason; you deleted by accident, it crashes, or god forbid a virus.  You would loss everything you paid for and have to go get it again.  (I like to keep my books after I read them for the future that was another blog.)

 

I also like walking through the book store to find my book.  While I am there looking for what I want I browse through the other books and find my future reads there.  I seem to have a harder time browsing through books online for some reason.

 

I also, if you have seen my posts you may have guessed it, like to make notes in the margins or use post-its (all color coordinated) to mark the pages in my books.  This way it is easy for me to go right back to where I want to, to look something up.

 

I just don't think anything compares to the classic pages in hand.  However, I do feel that eventually I am going to be forced to go to the ebooks in time.  It does seems the industry will lean toward doing less printing for many reasons; save money (for the paper, ink, and workers), not as much time consuming (can get books out faster), and enviromentally saver.

 

In all I will be joining you in the caves.  Stock up your shelves so we can share our books we have since the outside world will probably no longer be making them in the distant future.  Or I will have to move with the times and keep up, like it or not.

by Laurel on ‎07-30-2009 03:21 PM
I love books and have a house filled with them. For me, it was either get an e-book reading device or buy a bigger house. Now my reader is my constant companion. I would never read a book on a computer, but e-ink is another matter. No glare on my eyes, and I can enlarge the type at any time. I can also instantly look up a word in the dictionary. (Just this morning I clicked on to my lcache of words I have looked up in the past couple of months and reviewed the words, definitions, and origins.) I am eagerly looking forward to the Plastic Logic Reader so I can start reading B&N books. (Do you suppose they need someone to try it out for them?) And for those who just love the smell of a book-as-object, I've seen ads for New Book Smell sprays. :smileyhappy:
by on ‎07-30-2009 05:27 PM

You know for me the ebooks are up for review.

 

While I find it mildly exciting, a futuristic experiance. There are too many factors holding the medium back. One the readers aren't either cheep or common place. The ebooks price is too high as well. Not to mention a lack of flexability; all those eye strain back lit problems could be solved if a consumer could change the lettering size or type face. The lack of eye catching covers. Then you have a lack of compatability between ebook sellers. I didn't buy an MP3 player till the tech was out to listen to any MP3 with a player. When they make an ebook reader that I can down load a book from any seller, that will peak my interest. I do think the factor that some phones will pull them up, a step towards the future. But that's a baby step, give me a call when ebooks have gotten to highschool.

by shortlinkmd on ‎07-30-2009 10:27 PM

    eBooks will come in a big way when the readers get cheaper and in multiple formats (8.5 by 11 and below); however, DRM (Digital Rights Management) is still a big stumbling block for the large distribution systems. Most people buy a printed book, read it, pass it around to friends, and eventually sell it used. That won't be happening with the current large distribution methods (i.e. B&N, Amazon, etc).

 

    There will be an increase in usage of the current DRM distribution methods, but it will be suppressed by DRM. People have experienced some serious DRM-enabled control issues with large distribution system who believe they still hold ownership of the eBooks, music, etc. after purchased and distributed to the customer. The recent case where Amazon reached in and remotely deleted paid for, distributed eBooks was a real eye opener to everyone. Apple's iTune problems with individuals not being able to access their purchased music after changing to a new device, or other DRM inflicted problems is another example why the increase in eBook usage will be limited. 

 

    I recently purchased the eBook Memory Sticks, by Wood Ingham, in PDF format. This portable format does not use the DRM capabilities which will help me experiment with innovative ways of reading the book while moving around to different devices and locations. The eBook in this format will be the true innovators for the push of the future, not DRM-based systems.  

 

    Sorry B&N and Amazon. Pat Dant

by Sunltcloud on ‎08-02-2009 10:52 PM

Google Engineering Director Spells Out Vision for the Future of Digital Books - mediabistro.com: Bay...

 

Interesting article on e-book future. I love my kindle and have no eye strain because of the kind of screen (e-ink) they use and because I can enlarge the font enough to be able to read without glasses. Yes, I love books too, just bought a bunch, but when I travel or go to the beach or ride a train or bus, I prefer to take the e-book device which holds, so far, about 200 books I want to read. Many of them I downloaded for free from various websites. Recharging batteries is just something I have to plan for.  E-reader, netbook, and cell phone are taking their turns.

by Laurel on ‎08-03-2009 11:31 AM
Thanks for that article, Sunlit. I'm looking forward to that day. I love my Kindle, too, and yet keep buying heavy books as well. I have had my eyes on the Plastic Logic Reader since it was first spoken of well over a year ago and am eagerly waiting to see its final configuration. I've been browsing the B&N eBook store and downloading samples to the reader. They're off to a really good start.
by Permacav50 on ‎08-08-2009 05:41 AM

On a personal note i dont like e-books because I read to relax and I dont like reading from electronic screens for extended periods of time. It's just too much of a strain on the eyes. I know some of the newer devices are supposed to be easier on the eyes but why even bother when you can just read from a bound paper book which has worked for centuries? Plus what if you forget to charge it? Or while your charging it it fries? Or you drop it on the floor? A great advantage to paper books is that they are durable and all you need to read them is light. Which is almost always easily available 24/7. :smileyhappy:

 

On a more global scale I love history and always have and the history we have today would not be preserved if not for books. Maybe the Mayans are right and in 5 years a great disaster will set earth back to the stone age with nothing but our printed books to preserve our history. Or maybe someone will press the button and global thermonuclear war will wipe out most people and EMP will fry most electronic devices. Or maybe tomorrow you can squeeze orange juice from a tomato.

 

So yeah, save me a space in that cave as well if you would please. :smileyhappy:

by alexandrask on ‎08-14-2009 09:48 PM

I don't  mind starting to read an ebook, but after a while my eyes start to go. If the story has be captivated,  I need the paper.   Plus, I just love going to the book store or even the library just to browse and discover what looks good.  I just love the feel of paper in my hands.

A book store is  like Home Depot----- I can spend hours browsing in there and I can spend an afternoon at a good book store with a cup of coffee.  It is suppose to be a yucky day tomorrow, maybe I will drive over to barnes & noble and spend the afternoon with my cup of coffee and all those books......Yummy!

by aurora3d on ‎08-18-2009 12:06 AM

I'm happy to see that I am not the only one that has to have a real book in hand.  It is good to have eBooks as an option for when you travel, etc., but I need the real deal.  I was in Best Buy the other day and was told that their CD section is dwindling due to the digital age of music with iTunes and MP3's.  I want to be able to own the actual disc and not have to worry that if my computer crashes it will all be lost.  The same goes for eBooks.  Besides, staring into light for hours because you can't step away gives one a massive headache!  So hearing this really worried me that books would end up with the same future, but if we all continue to buy real books they will live on for a long time.

 

I'm all about saving the earth but many are starting to print on recycled paper and there are other alternatives to using trees as our main paper source.  Just ask Tree Free Greetings.  

 

Here's to a long and fruitful future of hardcovers, paperbacks, leatherbounds, and journals! :smileywink: 

by FindingLydia on ‎09-03-2009 10:55 PM

I tried it- I don't like it but that's just me. I don't have internet in my back pocket but I can carry my MP3 player around a lot more easily. It's what works for you, a personal preference. I'd love to have time to sit down with a book but unfortunately time does not allow that for me. I finally got my MP3 of The Name of the Wind today. I already have the first disc downloaded to my walkman! I have found the second and third silences (never the first- my house has too much stuff in it lol).

by ArtemisEstelle on ‎11-25-2009 03:35 PM

While I can see the pros to the eBooks, they just are not for me. I like pestering my mother to take me to Barnes and Noble and making her sleep in the car while I spend hours just looking through the shelves. Wtih electronics, I can never sit down for more than a few minutes at a time to read. A paperback or hardback though, can have me sitting in one place for hours at a time, just soaking in the ink and feeling the different paper between my fingers. Not to mention that eBooks don't have that new or old book smell.

 

You have made an interesting article on these, no doubt about that. And yes, I will admit that in some situations they are very convenient. But I don't think that they are ready to become the future just yet. Give it another year or three, and we should have made a lot of progress.

by Paula717 on ‎12-02-2009 08:57 PM

I'll be joining the party in the cave. I love the feel of a book in my hand. It's smell. Call me silly but I find it comforting. My husband and a few friends tried talking me into using an e-reader application but I adamantly tell them "You can have my book when you pry it from my cold dead hand".

by Januss331 on ‎12-04-2009 05:38 PM

I can't really comment on how my eyes are going to feel when I look at an eReader screen (no way can I read for a long time on the computer or my iPhone-already tried it and hurt myself) as I haven't gotten my nook yet. That's the biggest worry I have, I don't care when I get the darned thing, I just am worried that when I do get it, I'll get a headache reading the screen. Supposedly, the tech that goes into the screen (please don't change it to color!) stops that from happening. I hope it's true.

 

On another note, an eReader is extremely useful for a variety of reasons. A lot of you have said it, traveling. One reader with 10 books on it, or 10 books. Which would you rather carry? Or in my case, which would I rather have on a trip so that way I can stuff my bags with goodies that I just bought? :smileytongue:

 

Environment. A whole lotta paper goes into making books. If the world went digital, how many trees would we save?

 

This one is another issue: deployment. For military folks that love to read, you simply aren't allowed to take a whole bunch of books. With an eReader, you can read to your hearts content. I was just commissioned today and I feel a lot better knowing that no matter what, I'll always be able to keep on a hobby that is near and dear to my heart.

 

School. For folks who are in any kind of course that has a lot of PDF reading, you can see the advantage already. College and medical school-both places where an eReader is a boon. You can do your school work AND read for pleasure all in one place. Great for vacations when you have to study anyways and still want to take books. I just hope that textbook companies get off their butts and start to really work at converting their books for eReaders. Prime example, Harrison's for medical school. Anyone in medical school will know that it's a nightmare having that book.

 

I love the smell and feel of a book. I love going into a physical store and being surrounded by books in that atmosphere. That's one of the reasons why I bought a nook and not a Kindle. I love reading, and whatever platform it takes, I'll always be reading if my eyes allow me to do so. If I can feel a little bit better knowing I didn't cut down a tree or two while I'm at it, I'm even happier.

by ruthyc on ‎01-17-2010 03:24 AM

i love stories and ideas in any medium. i don't see myself as having to choose. i read ebooks and i read print books and i watch tv and movies and i listen to music. however a story is told, i will partake.

 

me personally, sometimes i hear a snippit of a song in a commericial or a movie or even an elevator and i fall in love and download the song immediately. i love knowing that i now have the option of doing the same thing with books. if there is a story or a character that intrigues me, or i watch a movie or tv show and later learn it was adapted from a book, i can immediately download and dive right in.

 

i love the experience of going to the book store and searching through the shelves and thumbing through the pages. i'm certainly not going to give up that experience. but now i have the option of having books come to me. for me, it means i'm going to read even more books than i did before because now it will take me less time to find new ones.

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